Sunday, February 13, 2005

Patio Moments

Please note that I quit journalism in college due to the fact that I couldn't obey one of the basic rules: Be concise. This journal entry and most that I post are not for the faint of heart or the dim of eye. This rambling is actually part one of something I wanted to title, "Things I Don't Have To Do."

But for now, I give you, "Patio Moments."

I can’t keep my hair out of my eyes and it’s hard to stare at the bright afternoon sun reflecting off of the paper as I write sitting here on the back patio. The afternoon sky is a perfect robin’s egg blue consistent across the horizon and beyond. Cool air rushes through the palm trees just to the left of me and over my head in my neighbor’s yard. The trees sing their rustling tune and accent the afternoon sky with their musical score and then go silent as if to keep me listening for more.

This is the patio from where I speak, but on a pre-hurricane, summer evening, not this sunny, cool February day.

I love that the cool air was not to be outdone by the strong-willed Florida sun for a change. So many winter breezes give up and cower to its persistent beating. Today is one to be savored. It’s 2:15 p.m. and I’m in jeans and a sweater, and when the wind clangs its cymbals, goose bumps can’t help but rise in response to the chill.

This is a day that makes a Floridian proud, a day the natives and snowbirds alike take a thrill in. Perfect. Crisp. Sunny. Cool. Gently breezy. The grass is green; not the deep blue-green it could be if I had fertilized when I should have, but green when you think about the gray/white monotone sky-to-ground palate in the North right about now. Two red hibiscus flowers have fully opened to decorate my scenery like a bow on a package of green. Fresh leaves have sprung out on my newest hibiscus tree, hinting at the beautiful flowers to come, the ones that make me happy when I look out the windows of my back french door. These I’ll have to wait for patiently. But it won’t be long now. Kids are walking home from school one street south of me and squeals of laughter mix with the swooshing sound of cars going by on their way to places of importance, no doubt. This is my important place right now - the cool air in my backyard blowing kisses at my cheeks while green grass affords a landscape I wasn’t always so fortunate to look out upon. The landscape is always changing. Some days for the better and hopefully in more ways than one. That makes my heart beat hopeful. While the crisp breeze with its pick-me-up attitude doesn’t have much of a chance of lasting 'til tomorrow, at least a hopeful heart set on a loving Father does.

The deep blue sky is a fairly predictable friend where I live. I should sit and let it cover me with its happy atmosphere more often. The pigeons have taken to my scraggly orange tree branches and one just flapped his way in there, announcing himself with a big coo and faintly squeaking sounds like my washer makes when the wash cycle is on. There are two of them now - love birds, alternately kissing and snuggling and then, just like that, one pushes the other away with an “un uh” sung in a sing song tune. How quickly moods change, even for the birds. As I listen I hear chirps of another bird coming from behind me; it is more a whistle that repeats incessantly like a nagging spouse. Another one somewhere in front of me and to my right resembles a baby chirping for food, and apparently it’s not gonna stop 'til someone pays attention. There are more noisy children now, sounds like about 25, rising upwards in volume to more like 50, moving unseen down the street blocked from my view by the homes behind my house. Wow! They are loud, but they don’t care - they don’t think about tomorrows and lists, and they are oblivious to onlookers. They are having a moment and they go through life inattentive to the effect their presence has, just like I did as a kid. It sounds like someone, the crossing guard, I presume, is reprimanding and directing them now. Slowly, they quiet down. How quickly they’ve come and are gone from within earshot, and so will be their carefree days of walking home from school with friends at their sides while they enjoy the feel of the sidewalk under their feet, the packs on their backs and the breeze in their face. Maybe one day this moment will come back to them and they will remember something of this day from where they‘ve come.

Casey just came out; I responded with a “no” to her request to go to the mall this instant. Why do I feel like such a creep? It’s not like I never take her. It’s something about the look on a 12 year old’s face that puts a kink in a mother’s patio moment. It’s a half day today where she goes to school, and I guess she’d hoped it would be more of a party than the house arrest she feels it has become. Hopefully she’ll look back one afternoon in her 40’s as she sits on the back patio under a February sky, and she will see something good here back in this moment, and maybe she’ll wonder why she didn’t appreciate the freedom in her hand and see more than a mean mom trying to ruin her life. I suppose I could help wipe that look off of her face too if I would just abandon my vantage point and take her. So goodbye beautiful sunny, cool Florida day. May another pass this way again very soon when I can take a minute to sit and soak it in.

For now I think I’ll go and enjoy a mall moment. There can be something to those too, especially with my 12 year old at my side, arm hanging on my shoulder, candy gift certificate in hand; the little girl who will soon have aged into a teen who will go off to the mall without need of an arm rest, a driver or a clothing advisor. These days are fewer than those rare and sunny, cool Florida days. I have to keep my time/childhood perspective in check. Rev up the engine - Abercrombie and Hollister, Claires and The Sweet Factory, here we come!

Addendum: Not only did my daughter’s countenance change enroute to her beloved mall. While there, we ran into someone who owed me money for a video project and she paid me right there in front of Sephora. Then we ran into another friend at the candy store who insisted upon buying Casey’s candy along with the sweets she was buying her son and his friend. Then because the boys overstuffed their bags, she gave Casey some of their candy plus the bonus candy necklace she received for buying a pound. I tell ya, even the mall has wonders to behold, and I find there is life to be savored beyond the "patio moments" I would cling to in moments of self-indulgence. All kinds of gifts come in all kinds of ordinary places. I love that.

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