I peek out the front door to the courtyard. “I’m sorry,” I say. “I have to come back out.” The finch fly off, quiet and light. I’ve already disturbed them once this morning, filling the feeders, rinsing the big terra cotta saucer I use for the bird water bowl. “I forgot to get the paper,” I tell them. I swing the door wide and the doves take off before I see them, one crazy-loud whoosh of wings. “Too many!” I call after them. Too many of them for my little courtyard. I walk to the gate, pick up my paper from the top of the wooden fence where my kind neighbor places it for me. I dawdle without meaning to, find myself stroking the native plant in the pot beside the sliding glass door, the one that makes tiny yellow flowers in the spring. A hummingbird perches on a bougainvillea branch, chittering. I think she’s the one who’s taken over the feeder outside my living room window. I cross back to the front door, and a familiar sweetness settles in me. The feeders are all filled, ready for my birds. The eight palm volunteers are spruced up in their blue pot, the Mexican petunia trimmed, the mullein happy. I climb the steps to my trailer, scanning the courtyard. There’s nothing more I could want, I think. Then lightning swift comes the next thought, nothing except for my two cats to be alive and here with me. I feel my loss, three years old now, and lift my eyes. The waning crescent moon hangs just above the open door, greeting me. I stand on the steps, and I know I can keep my deep, quiet contentment, can hold my joy, my loss, my longing. I can hold it all.
The eastern sky is washed in dark pink, our version of a sunset here, so near the San Jacintos. The clouds stretch north, too, as far as I can see on tiptoe. I am weeding the driveway, but I stop to look. There are two of the huge round kind I have only seen in these skies, big puffy smooshed almost-spirals that look like spaceships. The pink pales, and I go back to pulling weeds until the twilight plays tricks on my eyes. Later I remember I have left my shears sitting in the gravel. When I go back out to get them, I see the new crescent moon beside Venus in the west, a hands breadth above the mountains. I stand still, the dangling shears a weight pulling on my arm, my lips parted. They are surprising and bright above the darkening ridge. Back inside, I grab my laptop to do more work. I am carrying it to the living room when I have the impulse to look for them again. I bend my knees to peer out through the 4-inch slit of open window in my front door. They are still there, shining now through the silhouettes of the Palo Verde branches. I am like a little kid, scrunched down, nose pressed up against the screen. I stand there in the narrow hallway, giddy, computer clutched against my chest, watching the two of them for a long time, magic beings in the night sky.
I roll over on the bed, extend my arms out, flex my hands. It’s Sunday morning, and I relish lounging in bed, indulging in that sweet place between sleeping and wakefulness, soft dreamy half thoughts floating through me. I stretch again, spread my fingers wide. When I arch my back, I see the tiny crescent of the waning moon framed in the clerestory window. I love to see the moon in daylight, and this feels like the perfect beginning. I get out of bed, and I see the sun has already reached the courtyard. The two tallest of the volunteer sunflowers are alive in their namesake’s light. My movement at the window startles doves from the ground. More doves take flight when I open the door, and Boo charges out. I remember it’s the one day of grace from the construction site across our little road. I scurry back inside to do what I revel in doing once each week—I open the louvered windows at the front of the house. The Sunday quiet is the only thing that enters. I stand for long moments looking out the open window in the gentle air.