Today I get to wake up in my own bed. I make tea, climb back into it, cozy in the cool morning, all the windows open, the San Jacinto mountains spread before me. I let myself drift and daydream, one of my favorite things. I hear a white-crowned sparrow begin to sing across my little road, and then a second one joins in, and another and another. Their music is balm and blessing for me, reaching sinew and bone. I didn’t know how many might have come this winter. I set one of the automatic feeders up for them beneath the bougainvillea in the courtyard, knowing it wouldn’t be as much as before when I was here to feed them, but if they came, it would be something, an offering, at least. This morning in bed I listen to call after call, my lips parted. I understand they’ve been here in numbers all along, hoped for but all unknown to me until this moment. And I understand this morning’s song is their gift to me.
I can hear the trill of a bird, a familiar, much-loved sound, but if I once knew who was making it, I have forgotten. My mother gets up from her computer game to wrap the fuzzy orange tube scarf around her cat, protection from the sliding glass door I’ve opened ten inches, desperate for “real” air and a connection to the earth. “It’s okay,” she says to Trie. “It’s okay.” Her voice is kind of sing-song, but it doesn’t bother me today. My mother goes back to her game, and I think how it’s likely just this reassurance she is wanting to hear, too. The familiar bird trill is further away now, maybe two yards over, and I hear a house finch singing next door. Yes, I think. It’s okay. Everything’s okay.
My orchid plant and tiny shoots of the cactus I brought home from Ajijic in 2009 sit beside each other on top of the toilet tank in my bathroom here in my mother’s house (together with the little green plastic dinosaur who came home with me from the hostel in the Marin Headlands) and every now and then especially after I water them I stop and really take them in rescued from my trailer home by my dear friends and somehow dear friends themselves now, too and talismans or hope or living proof my little home still awaits us all.
Now that I am giving my mother’s cat her fluids every day I look for and savor even more the mornings when her head feels sturdy underneath my hand or like yesterday when she trotted off down the hall— buoyant.
I am peeing late in the day, staring out the open door without seeing, and then there are small cat paws visible below the red couch in the new room. I lean forward, see Trie eating her canned food. Her human is in bed doing a crossword puzzle from her big book. There is an absence of agitation after a steady spill of it throughout the day, an almost unrecognized relief. I bend my head down to see Trie more fully, her concentration, the always-pleasure of seeing her skinny, ailing self enjoying her food. I am happy just now in the midst of everything else, this unexpected moment, the cat and I linked somehow in the quiet, heartened by her furry self and her steady eating.
I stop in the entryway stand on the bricks wait for my mother looking out the open front door without seeing and then I am watching three house finch on the garage roof playing musical chairs with the corner but quiet and I am breathing now grateful they brought me back and for their joy.
Back yard corner of my mother’s home, hot tea in hand, time just before my writing class to drink it, to soak up the small arm of these foothills that wraps itself around the cul-de-sac here. If I could be anywhere in the world I might choose to be beneath the down blankets in my Palm Springs bed, the San Jacintos spread before me, the white crowned sparrows making their quiet sounds beneath the bougainvillea in the corner of the courtyard and the sense that my mother was well and sleeping at home with her cat. But this corner is good, too, my pen moving across the page, the sun just high enough now in the southern sky to send shafts of light through the leafless branches of the liquid ambers. I sip my yerba maté and pray, a kind of almost-peace descending.