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Winter rye

As suburban sprawl continues, the view from my back patio has changed from a wooded area full of wildlife and a 100 acres of grazing pasture for cattle to a view of subdivision fences and construction equipment installing the infrastructure for yet another new subdivision.

I don’t begrudge my new and soon to be new neighbors. Young families continue to flood into our little town seeking good, safe schools in which to send their children. That’s the very reason we moved here from Houston 9 years ago. We also knew when we bought this property that it was only a matter of time before the old gentlemen who owned the grazing land would concede to his grown children’s wishes and sell the property to a development company. I’m also grateful there is a neighborhood going up behind us instead of a shopping mall.

Still, I miss my view.

A few months ago, a representative came and talked to us about some drainage issues and installing fencing along the property line. Once our neighbor and we agreed, a sloped area was created to allow for proper drainage. When the lots are sold which back up to our property, a 6 foot fence will be built on the property line. With the grading and the slope, we’ll essentially have a view of a 9 foot fence along the back of our property. Oh, well…

Part of what the developer agreed to was to sod the slope. In this part of the country, the grass of choice is St. Augustine. It withstands the brutal heat we have in the summertime and only completely dies out for 2 or 3 months out of the year, depending on how cold it gets in the winter. Which is why I was surprised to see them spraying the slope with a rye grass mixture a couple of months ago. A week later, I figured there was a mix up about what type of grass to plant because I came home to find workers installing squares of St. Augustine over the rye grass seed.

Then I guess they had more important matters to attend to because no one watered the newly sodded grass and it died out. When they finally got around to watering the now dead St. Augustine, here’s what happened:

If the St. Augustine had been watered properly when it was first installed, it would have rooted and choked off the rye grass. I imagine once the spring rains come, along with the higher temps and humidity, the rye will wither and the St. Augustine will overtake the slope.

But for now, a view out my back door serves as a reminder that we can change our minds and our circumstances, but sometimes the things we plant then choose to replace or abandon may find their way back whether we want them or not. And sometimes we think winter is over, but it was only taking a few days off.

(I’m sorry if this post is vague. I’m processing some things that are weighing heavily on my heart and I just can’t discuss them publicly. They don’t involve anyone in my immediate family–we are all okay, and for that and so much more I am extremely grateful. So even though writing helps me sort through some things, sometimes I have to not write about some things. Clear as mud, huh? My hope is that if you can relate this to something in your own life it might serve as some measure of encouragement. If not, I’m really sorry you just read 600 words about what kind of grass I have in my back yard.)

The Winter Trail

This week, my friend Peter Pollock is hosting a blog carnival on the topic of Grief. Truth be told, while I have experienced grief, I was really struggling to come up with a post. Then my friend Annie asked if I was still looking for guest posts. When she sent me this story, and I knew I had my post. A very special thank you to Annie for sharing her story.

Photo by Annie K

There was a light covering of snow on the ground as I made my way along the river trail. Two weeks had passed since I’d been there and I noticed that a lot had changed in that short amount of time.

I dressed for the elements, knowing that a storm had blown through the day before and unsure of how much snow I’d be traversing. Luckily there wasn’t much snow, but what there was had already been trampled by enough hikers to make the trail somewhat slippery.

I’d forgotten that as treacherous as each uphill is in the snow, it’s the downhill that I had to worry about. I began to question why I picked the hilliest part of the trail to hike and not just because of the conditions, but because I’d been sick for well over a week and my lungs were making sure I remembered that.

The last time I hiked the trail there were still some remnants of falls colors, with what leaves remained were clinging to their branches as if unwilling to succumb to their fate of spending winter on the cold hard ground. The squirrels were chattering and scurrying about and the birds were extremely vocal, especially when Boz encroached in their space.

Today, the woods were still except the lone crow who was flushed out of his hiding space and made no secret of his irritation with the rogue Boz-dog on the trail. The squirrels and birds were eerily silent and nowhere to be seen. The trees were completely bare and not a single leaf was spared, with the last ones to fall being scattered along the trail. I came upon a fallen aspen tree that a few weeks ago had been the picture of vibrance with all of it’s leaves in full fall color. Now, the leaves were gone and it was left laying on the ground, never to produce leaves again.

As I walked the trail and took in all the change that happens from spring, to summer, to fall and finally winter, I realized that my life in the past week resembled the trail that was preparing for winter.

You see, it wasn’t being sick that took the life out of me and brought on the season of winter, it was watching my daughter walk out the door without looking back. It was seeing her dark brown eyes turn nearly black as she spit out the words, ‘you need me…’ as she packed up her belongings. She said those words more than once and in several different ways in the time it took her to pack her worldly possesions.

You. Need. Me.

There was a moment where it hit me , and I don’t know who she was trying to convince. I’m not sure if she was saying that over and over to convince herself that yes, she was needed, or trying to convince me that letting her go was going to be the biggest mistake of my life. All I know is that two people were feeling dead inside as she walked past me and uttered, ‘whatever,’ as she walked out the door.

I have refused to cry or feel anything but anger and indifference. I don’t want to talk about what led up to my daughter leaving her home or why she screamed she hated me. I don’t want to let go of the anger because I know when I do that the hurt will come and it is going to be worse than anything I’ve ever felt. And, I know that once the tears start they won’t stop.

For now, the trail understands my pain. It is colorless, cold, empty of life and waiting. Waiting for the next season to bring hope of new life.


To read more posts on the topic of Grief, please visit the blog carnival at Rediscovering the Church