Simple Beauty Carries You

Harvest day was too damp and cold for Shawna to pack adjacent to the walk-in cooler, forcing me to make a hundred+ back and forth trips. On each journey, hauling cut microgreens in large totes (back-and-forth three times for every stem), I paused to appreciate the tulips. Both coming and going.

Before this, I hadn’t realized they remained clamped shut in a light rain. I think I prefer them this way. Lovely and understated. We must have about two dozen in bloom this week, hardly Instagram-worthy, but I’m entirely smitten. What a fine investment these were. They called to mind the day I lost my job, 7/29/14. I hope it’s the last one I’ll ever have, but one never knows about such things.

Ten minutes after being sacked, I was atop the bike, riding along Lake Superior. The alternative was curling into the fetal position, soiling sheets. Everything was vivid. Particularly color. I felt like a “Dead man walking,” soaking in final sights and sounds. It’s impossible to overstate how meaningful simple beauty is to someone out there on the edges like that. A flower garden along Scenic 61, riotously colorful, produced a fresh burst of tears. I had to restrain myself from stopping to hug the elderly gardeners, so desiring to encourage them for what their lifelong hobby meant to me in that most fragile moment.

A fantastically green weed, thriving in a crack of pavement, had a similar effect as I sped by at 20 mph. The thin membrane holding back a salty brine was easily pricked. Looking back, it’s stunning to realize that this great upheaval arrived in the exact midpoint of my kids’ childhood. Their experience of 18 years was cleaved right down the middle, like a watermelon split in one quick motion via machete.

It’d be pretty neat to have my next book come out on the anniversary, 7/29. We’ll see. I still need a title and painting for the cover. A million other details vie for attention.

In the meantime, never underestimate the value of ten bucks in tulip bulbs injected into your life’s soil, or, that of your neighbor when beauty is needed most.

Zooming out, we have a graduation party coming up in two weeks, the only one we’ll ever have. All our kids continue to go through every stage simultaneously, overwhelming us in the moment and producing parenting experts of everything leading to the current moment, but leaving us ignorant of tomorrow’s needs as we continue this great task of parenting without a license.

As you can see, there’s still work to do…

But, it’s lovely to take stock of small accomplishments while trodding this path a hundred times a day.

Parenting is more art than science…

A president, speaking to C-students, once said, “You too can be President of the United States.” It’s heartening to know that an average parent can also produce a bumper crop.

Most surprising of all, I’ve discovered this is only the end of the beginning.

I’m unbelievably excited by her choice of schools, even though it’s far away. I never could have predicted this outcome.

No, those aren’t crazy earrings. Stories and podcasts lubricate the 12-hour harvest day.

I’m just as excited about the other child’s path, by the way, and hope to find apparel emblazoned with “Lake Superior College Welding is Hot!” or something along those lines.

Can you believe this was our last Mother’s Day with children?

Even more surprisingly, we’re not dreading this next stage. For now, at least.

With that, I should probably get to picking away at this mess.

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