I’m sitting in my dining room this afternoon listening to coffee drip through the pot while my two boys are downstairs in the basement playing video games. One of my chickens is out back squawking from the heat, as she does every afternoon when the day breaks in two. She makes me nervous out there making such a racket. It’s not like she’s over heated or thirsty or anything. The girl has her other chicken friends and food and ice-cold water in her trough to cool her off, but at 2pm every day in the summer she starts up out there. One day a neighbor is going to complain about the noise, I’m sure. Not as if it’s worse than the college students who live next door laughing and playing their music until 3am, or the people who lived behind us and would leave their dog out back to bark at god knows what. Sigh. The realities of living in tight quarters in a city. There are so many bodies packed together, sharing the same breathing space, that we’re bound to get on each other’s nerves every now and then.
I was thinking the other day about how little I’ve written about my grandmother, or any of my ancestors lately. I wonder why that is. Somedays it feels as though they’ve left me all together. I was sitting in the back room yesterday trying to think of a memory of my grandma but nothing came. Maybe she got tired of all of the people who live around me, too. She is from the country where she grew up bare foot and unnoticed by city ordinances. Perhaps she left me to get some fresh air back up in the mountains. Not that I blame her. Though, if I’m honest, I’m not really too surprised that I can’t think of a memory. All summer I slowly spent less and less time in my garden until it was over taken by weeds and dead from thirst. Birds swooped in and pecked the tomatoes, attracting flies to the half rotted fruit, and the eggplant grew brown and misshapen from neglect. A family of mice took up residence in the green house underneath the soaker hoses, gnawing through bags of chicken feed and tipping over planter cups. A real mess. Jason finally went out there and pulled out the vegetable plants and took down the old green house, leaving only a planting shelf for me to work at this fall.
Did she leave once I began to neglect the garden or did I begin to neglect the garden once she left? I can’t be sure. But a thick unhappiness rested on me once she was gone and I have been so lonesome for family ever since. The long tired days of summer hide the fat moon and starve the stars, whose eyes bring a mindful rest to those suffering from sadness. Some evenings I watch the sun slowly creep down into the west, burning the trees into the horizon, waiting for black night to come. It’s under the soft light of night when I can finally see. Sipping wine or bourbon in the kitchen soothes my mind and quiets my angry thoughts that fire daggers into my memories of reckless parents and grandparents who destroyed our beautiful family. My mind’s eye opens and I no longer give my anger the attention it clamors for. I search for my grandmother, who my anger loves to attack with a spear, as I flip through my cook book, inviting her to sip with me. But she’s gone. I close the book. I haven’t cooked much this summer, either. Our pantry is filled with plastic wrapped gummies and granola bars that a factory pushed out on a belt. Maybe I starved my grandmother out. Or drowned her in alcohol and preservatives. Not much unlike my childhood.
Who knows how long she will be gone. I’m closely watching the world spin into autumn as the evenings cool much more easily when the sun perches on the end of the earth, waiting to push new seeds into the dirt and welcome them as new visitors when they sprout. Springing up as miracles.