Our sun is moving northward, quick passage, blinkings of the eye. For almost three months now I have sat here looking at the mountains, unobstructed views since our Palo Verde came down in the fierce wind last fall not long after Sofia died. I used to live outside in the courtyard, but when Boo came home from the hospital, I moved inside, set the two of us up together on the couch bed, me with my down blankets and two small soft beds for him beside me warmed with heating pads. After he died I just stayed put, ensconced in my perch, and I’ve watched the sun inching north. So, because Boo died, I established myself here in this cozy spot. Because we lost our tree, I have these mountains for companions. Silver linings, here, gifts hidden inside grief. I don’t know how many times I’ve cried in this room since I ended up without my little family and have not yet been able to bring myself back into our shared courtyard without them. But I know at times those tears have come because I feel so grateful for this solace. I can’t imagine any better place for me or more exquisite comfort than this room with the mountains before me, pink clouds near dusk, the winter sun’s clean slanting, healing light, the finches noisy and happy just outside the window. So, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.
When they planted my palo verde before we moved into our new home, I prayed to know her name if she had one. Days later when I was weeding near her base I saw her name in my head. It was typed on thick white paper with pink and blue fibers woven through it. The lines were single-spaced, like part of a letter written on an old manual typewriter. Serena. Really? Serena? It wasn’t something I would have chosen. Then I heard it in my head, spoken with a Spanish accent, the long letter “A” sounds, the furred, rolled “R.” I liked it. She was in full bloom when they brought her, and she grew fast. The first fierce wind we had knocked her over, and I became hysterical. I’d never had my own tree planted in the ground before, only Christmas trees who lived in pots. Gus came and righted her, tied her up, but he said she was still too top-heavy. After, I bought a saw. I’ve been removing her limbs little by little, feeling like I’m cutting off my own arms, terror alive in me each time. The last time I had the wrong angle on the cut, had to go in again from the side, made a big gouge in her main trunk I haven’t forgiven myself for. I pray she’ll be okay, that her roots will grow deep and wide now, her remaining limbs thick and strong. I can see her tall and broad, our shelter from the summer afternoon, her branches filled with birds sitting quiet in the early evening. The first morning we lived here, a little yellow bird came to sit in her, tasting her tiny leaves (or maybe eating bugs I couldn’t see). “Ah,” I said. “You are nibbling on my companion.” It felt like a good omen, that visit. Yesterday I looked up and there were more than half a dozen goldfinch perched in her, their little calls and yellow bellies music on a winter day. My palo verde. My Serena. May you be blessed for long, luxurious decades. May you never lack for water, for company, for blue sky, for love.
The previous owners of our new old trailer home went back to Canada ten days ago. Since then I’ve felt my psychic responsibility for both dwellings. I agonize over my decisions for the trailer, line up fence contractors, research air conditioners online with Consumer Reports. I cry watering the bougainvillea here, ache when I hear the house sparrows chittering. I sit in our courtyard garden and savor sight and sound. I have dreams of future lushness in our new home, but for the beginning our life outdoors there will be stark in comparison, no trees, no hedge alive with birds. I’ll miss our big fan palm and our valiant pine tree. I’ll miss color and texture, bark and stone and hibiscus. I so hope the new tenant will take care of the lives we leave behind us here.
I lay in bed this morning while fierce winds had their way with our world and worried the teetering fence with the rotted post at the trailer may end up across the road, prayed if it fell it would fall inward instead. When I saw the fence between my landlord’s yard and ours had given way, my first thoughts were go now, move now, don’t wait. My next thought was how odd that this fence would fall over when I was worried about the one at the trailer. Was this some weird kind of mirroring, some parallel universe thing?
When I walked over to check on the trailer, the fence there was listing but not down. I stacked more bricks against one side, wedged the bird bath against the other. Now it’s late at night, the wind still noisy behind our closed doors, but I don’t feel anxious. And there is another sweetness that came to me today. This afternoon, when I went to lock the trailer door, I turned back, compelled by a wash of feeling. “I’m looking forward to coming to live here,” I said to the empty rooms. I think it was the first time I felt it in my bones. I had a lopsided grin on my face when I turned to leave. There is life outside here, too. I passed the orange nasturtiums beside the propped up fence on my way out. I was still grinning when I headed home.