On the morning that my father died, I took a long walk. After far too many sad hours in the dimness of a sick room, I longed to fill my lungs with crisp December air, feel the winter sun on my face and remember how to breathe. When a loved one passes away in the South, it is almost as though the ones who remain are basically thrown, quite immediately, into full social planning mode, and I was no exception - I had many stops to make, many plans to see to before all the relatives hit town. But following my meeting at the funeral home, I persuaded The Songwriter to go home without me and allow me to make my way through the rest of my to-do list on foot. I needed a walk in the fresh air.
I headed down the sidewalk into town, past the old stone church on the corner where the lovely Nativity scene was already in place for the holidays. The Songwriter’s family helped establish this church, more than a century ago - their names etched in the stained glass windows. Pulling my coat a little tighter around me, I opened the door of the florist and placed my order for masses of red flowers, Daddy’s favourites. Then on up the hill and right at the stop light, into the gift shop for candles and across the street to the bakery by the park, where they knew what I wanted before I asked. Every proprietor had asked how I was, each with real concern in their eyes. As I entered our old neighborhood my pace slowed a bit and I tilted my head back to gaze up at the trees towering above me on either side of my path. Having cast aside their colourful garments of autumn, their arms were now stark and bare in the December light, and they laced grey fingers above my head, sheltering, protecting me all the way home, just as they had on many walks before this one.
I realized anew what a sweet thing it is to feel one’s part in a community, to live where you’re known, where even the trees seem like some of your friends.
In this age in which we live, so many definitions are rapidly changing with every month that flies past. The idea of community continually shape-shifts for me. Through this magic portal of a computer screen, I feel as though I am part of a new and unique community, for there are wonderful people from all corners of the world whom I consider to now be my friends.
People who write to tell me they just saw a dog on the streets of Paris who looked exactly like Edward.
People who send me favourite recipes, favourite books - who write with get well wishes for my dratted summer cold.
Only today I received a postcard from Scotland from Jeanne, the delightful blogger from Collage of Life. She knew of my love of that country and took the time to send me a note when she was there. What a treat to find that in my mailbox!
And recently one of my favourite British blogger/poets, The Weaver of Grass, put a call out for suggestions in naming two of her new Blue Haze chickens. There was something about that phrase, Blue Haze, that brought Marlene Dietrich to my mind. I could somehow see her, on a foggy night, leaning against a lamppost in Berlin, singing a song of lost love. And then, that image brought to mind Lotte Lenya, another chanteuse of the period. So I suggested Weaver name the chickens Marlene and Lotte. What a thrill it was when she wrote to say those were the names she had chosen! As I lay in bed that night, it was such a happy thought..... I had actually named two chickens in Yorkshire! I could not have been happier winning the Oscar.
What a grand community this is.
The other day, another favourite blogger sent me a kind email telling me that she just knew we’d be great friends if I lived in her city.
I had to write her back to say, “Funny.. but I think we already are!”
“On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.”
Adlai E. Stevenson