Maya Hinshaw - August 31, 2022
Image by Eli Marti
The sun glimmers through the trees as a house door opens, and the symphony of the world floods inside, if only for a moment. The proud, repetitive Fu-weet! of some finch’s sharp call provides the perfect metronome keeping perfect time. The rushing of nearby cars and bikes and trucks fades into the background. A whirring of discordant crescendos and decrescendos becomes the meager canvas for the magnificent showing of the natural world. She steps out, she shuts the door, she begins on her way. She's taken this short trip an infinite amount of times, yet it’s slightly different each time. "That's the beauty in it," she thinks. A cold breeze passes through her, with the upsetting apathy of an old friend who no longer speaks to you. A sparrow, or perhaps an owl up far too early, begins its melancholic song.
Her heavy boots carry her along the way. A heavy trod trod trod becomes the new beat-keeper, each step softened by the shuffle of grass beneath it and the shifting of the bag against her arm. The beat is gentle and timid, the shoes are heavy and rough. She orchestrates her rhythm through the well-manicured section of the lawn towards the places left untamed, pausing briefly by the neighbor’s fence. She perches on her toes, peeking over the fence, and scans the open field. A brief look of disappointment crosses her face, but to her surprise a little black nose pokes through the fence. An adorable little calf licks at her leg, and she crouches down to pet it. “Hi Bernie!! You little sweetheart!” she whispers, her eyes aglow. The sun’s warmth begins to soften the cold breeze. Bernie’s protective older brother stomps over clumsily. She takes that as her sign to leave and continues her journey. She checks every bush and branch on the way, looking for new life to reappear.
“Ah, still no elderberries yet,” she mumbles to no one but herself.
There is something special to her about picking food from the earth, something that binds her body to the earth that nourishes her. She would pick every single berry or flower for whatever jam or syrup or tart she might bake that week. The simple knowledge of where each fruit comes from becomes a sturdy thread, securing her to this land. The connection swells in her chest as she continues glancing around for nothing in particular—of course, looking for nothing can always lead you to something.
The world opens up and shows her to her seat at this orchestra of the world around her. She lays a blanket from her bag on the ground, takes her seat and looks around; the music picks up. Daisies and Clovers and Violets and, her favorite, Queen Anne’s Lace sit in their sections and prepare for their cues, instruments tuned and ready. The wind blows their wild and sweet harmonic notes through the trees. A distant woodpecker taps out an insistent beat, relaxing in its methodical nature. Two finches chatter back and forth to each other like two garrulous old women who just “haven't seen each other in ages!!” A blue jay begins its serenade. The squeals of old fence posts harmonize into chords; perhaps the paint-chipped wood wants to be a guitar. Each entity performs its part of the unspoken harmony. Every note is strong, and it’s vivacious, and it’s expressive, and it’s alert, and it’s complex, and it’s electric, and most of all—it’s alive! She thinks to herself, “What in the world was I even upset about?”
The breeze whirls to her once more—not through her, but to her. The fresh, fragrant air fills her chest with full intent. The symphony swells once more, becoming greater and greater as it nears its finale. The sun warming the land, it brightens with each spirited and incalescent note. The harmonies resonate; the beat pounds in her chest and soul, and she knows that when the body that holds her is gone, she will be part of this symphony too.