Sunday, November 29, 2009

2 Days Late, 1200 Words Short

2 Days Late, 1200 Words Short
I reread the entry here from last Thanksgiving weekend. The big t.v. was new then and the kids and I spent the weekend alternating between lolling on couch in our skivvies or standing in front of the refrigerator with a fork. Now I have nearly mastered the three separate remotes but still marvel that nine hundred channels offer so little worth watching. This year again we are spending the long weekend in indolent overeating sprawl. This weekly posting is late and brief. There are leftovers, three episodes of Mad Man the 17 year old is pressuring me to mail back to Netflix so he can order another title and I am afraid to lose my spot on the couch.

Fido’s appetite is enormous and as dog people, we know that a terminally ill dog will stop eating when the time has come. Fido enjoys Thanksgiving preparation, refuses no scraps that are offered and helps herself to snacks from the counter and trash can. She continues to pant and spends a lot of time sleeping but gets up and wags her tail when Himself arrives. When she was adopted from Poodle Rescue she was allowed to sleep in our bed with the cats who, separated from their mother too early, would nurse on her for hours. When Rover, overenthusiastic about cats, arrived, dogs were deported to the main floor and issued dog beds, eschewed for the couch. For old time’s sake, I sneak Fido into the bedroom for a cuddle with Himself. I cook and tear up thinking about them curled up in the bed together, a sweet experience for her final days. Several hours later I head upstairs to find Fido wedged miserably between step and door waiting to be released from verboten bedroom. Apparently a dog, after six years of banishment, has no sense of nostalgia.

The yard on Fulton Avenue had a smooth pelt of dichondra encircled by hearty rose, camellia and gardenia bushes. When company was coming, or sometimes just for fun, we would create a small floral arrangement to adorn a coffee table or the enormous highly finished knotty pine t.v. cabinet. I loved the splash of color in what was otherwise a somber darkish room. Roses still had a sweet scent in those days and on warm nights I would lie on my bed delirious with the thick scent of gardenia in full bloom wafting through the open window.

Once, in college, on impulse, I purchased a bouquet of cut flowers for my mother and she did not conceal her sheer disgust at this near criminal extravagance, spending money on something you could not eat and would inevitably die. I began to gift her houseplants which would wilt in the dark den and remain there, desiccated and dusted thrice weekly.

When I first moved out on my own I made a vow that I would always have flowers in my home and even now, despite our austerity budget, with an untended backyard that yields no blooms, I have not begrudged myself a modest weekly bouquet. I wonder if my kids will remember that their mother always, except for the week of Mother’s Day when they are ridiculously expensive, had flowers in the house. I ask Himself if he likes an arrangement I find particularly beautiful and he admits not having noticed and to never actually noticing flowers at all. It makes me sad he feels no magic and I offer to teach him the names of the flowers I bring home and he agrees to this when I tell him that flowers give me as much pleasure as food and music. This is like him teaching me to say “I love you”(Mo gra ho) and other brief phrases in Irish, as I try to keep my own heart open to his peculiar passions.

This week I visit the flower market and there is little comparable to the delight I feel in the middle of the vast warehouse brilliant with scent and color at the crack of dawn. I find blue hydrangeas and tuberose and a green puff thing I have never seen before that the salesgirl tells me is called tree bush but maybe I didn’t hear correctly. I hold my twine bound newspaper bundle to my chest as I weave through sidewalk carts and hand trucks and importuning homeless, on Wall Street, a block from the Midnight Mission. Early morning Skid Row and I walk quickly, holding on tight to my Thanksgiving flowers, beautiful but perhaps only to me alone.

Thanksgiving is with friends I’ve known so long we are conscious of the irony of finding ourselves focused on kids and health problems, The year has held loss and disappointment but there is a sense of triumph and comfort at having kept friends so close for so long and having created a warm place, despite the flowers no one notices, where we can come together. After decades forging lives and families, our youthful sense of invincibility has been replaced by decades of experiences that confirm again and again how vincible we really are. The giving thanks part is more poignant and the coming together part more blessed with every passing year.


FionnchĂș said...

I do notice flowers when they make me sneeze, or when I am asked to toss them out as slime and smell overcome earlier fragrances. Like Fido, the scent of mortality hovers over us all, but I do thank you on this post-Thanksgiving time for your unstinting efforts to make our humble home happy and sweet-smelling. xxx me

Chris Berry said...

I noticed the flowers, Layne. Thanks for sharing Thanksgiving in Casa Murphy again this year.