Fittings and Flushing

At 5:53 this morning, I was chanting fittings and flushing over and over because the new toilet seems to be malfunctioning which I must investigate so it can be returned within the grace period if need be. And I need to call the plumbing fittings store because I’m in the market for a new pressure tank.

I do not allow myself to get out of bed until 6 a.m., so given my distractibility, if I wake early and think of things, I recite them until I’m up and can write them on a list.

This discourages God. The holy art of being chill eludes me even though, as God has pointed out for decades, fretting at dawn does not necessarily enhance the chances of a good day.

But today, the chanting paid off. By 9 o’clock I had called the fittings store; the size of pressure tank we need will have to be ordered, not just picked up. And I’d flushed enough to realize the flapper chain was too short. An easy fix.

Next, there’s the broken screen door handle. And powdery mildew is taking over the garden, and right at this moment, a wasp is buzzing around in the living room. Even though we usually have five or six swatters available, I can’t find a single one.

But I do find God, standing motionless in Mountain Pose on the porch.

“Hello, God,” I say. “What’re you doing out here?”

“Considering autumn. Funerals. Firewood. Frost. Harvest.”

“Want me to memorize a list for you?” I ask facetiously.

“No.”

God picks up one of the onions drying in the sun. She peels away dirt-encrusted layers until she reaches the moist, succulent flesh and releases the pungent signature of onion. “This will take care of it.”

Only God can do this with an onion. She had summer mark this tragic year with three gargantuan pumpkins, renegade tomato plants, and cauliflower heads, white as snow, which we’d forgotten were there.

Spring is one of my worst distractions. We always overplant, but this will change.

Nothing stays the same. Nothing lasts. To know this is a burden and a blessing.

Between impermanence and consciousness are caves and canyons worn by water, made beautiful by clay, resisting, yielding, and resisting again.

Letting go.

Hanging on.

And letting go again.

That tasty cauliflower grew to fruition unnoticed, but the gigantic, neon pumpkins are entirely obvious, frantically ripening a raucous orange on frost-damaged vines. God and I are cheering them on–God perched comfortably on the pinnacle of forever; me, less centered, patting the pumpkin’s belly, dreading the coming winter, but imagining pie.

A Farewell to September

imported from the camera april 2014 411 (3)

September has begun picking at the clothing summer gave her, refusing to eat, and sighing a lot. There’s little doubt it’s about over. October is waiting in the wings, audacious, pregnant with color, unafraid of snow.

“What’s your favorite month?” I ask God. I say this just to get a little conversation going. I don’t actually care about God’s favorite month, and usually, I hate these kinds of questions.

But I ask because God seems distant today. God is in a very big mood. Bigger than sky or any of the planets in our solar system. Bigger than whatever is beyond what we can see. Big. You might think such a big God wouldn’t have time to contemplate her favorite month, but you’d be wrong. As God and I have gotten better acquainted, certain subtleties of her personality have surfaced. She can be stubborn and compulsively attentive to minutia. She likes chit chat. For someone who created the known and unknown universe, she can seem quite shallow and petulant, although she’s also the ultimate role model for apologies and forgiveness. There’s a steadiness I appreciate, even if some of her ways annoy or confuse me.

“I like them all,” she answered. Her voice was knowing. Patient. “But there’s something intriguing about December in Montana, don’t you think?”

I regretted asking. I could feel some kind of lesson coming on. “Depends on what you mean by intriguing,” I said. “I don’t like snow, or the holidays, or bare branches, or slick roads. If you mean the fight to survive is intriguing, then yeah, I guess.”

God didn’t answer directly. Instead, she blurred herself into the gray ash of a cremated body. The bruised purple of sunrise filtered through the translucent storm that was God. I watched wide-eyed and afraid as she rolled the months into a blanket with an impatient flourish. She grabbed my soul, wrapped me tight in the distorted jumble of seasons, and suddenly, we were on the shores of Hawaii. There, clad in bright strips of rags, she scrubbed out the differences on sharp volcanic rocks, welcoming waves of salt water with the wrinkled solemnity of the ancient ones. Gradually, all beautiful, all dangerous, all vital distinctions gave way and floated out to sea.

“There you go,” she said. “An occasional hurricane, but otherwise, totally placid. Bland. Uniform. Predictable. Safe. Are you happy now?”

I hung my head and said, “No. Not really.”

And then I was alone. September doesn’t need me anymore but I know the perils of October all too well. Before the ground freezes, I will transplant rhubarb and stack the split and fragrant wood high against the coming winter. I’ll warm myself in the crackling circle of fire, and with the few words I have left, I’ll resurrect the seasons, even those that will eventually do me in.