Saturday morning, and I’m greeted with more snow and the promise of extreme sub-zero, (i.e., Fahrenheit) bitter cold on its way. This is my life, six people—four offspring—living together, and my husband and I shovel for them! We ditch the patio table in the garage and push the chairs in a row, as you see, to fit four vehicles on the driveway so that we can reverse without having to move another car for one to exit. Crowded, but we save the collective group money by staying together while the majority of them are in college.
It’s that time of year when we pine for springtime’s fresh air, smell of thawing soil, and the twitter of birds. Along with that comes emergence of preliminary flowers, like crocus that foretell the arrival of hyacinth, tulips, and daffodils. But we are not there yet, so I placate myself with photos of gardens I have visited, coffee table picture books for gardeners from the library, and I thoroughly examine the photos in seed catalogs, from which I no longer buy. The one year I invested in some catalog seeds, I traveled overseas with my kids and found someone—you know who you are—had not watered the garden.
Since moving into this house about eighteen years ago, I’d imagined my spacious property would evolve to parallel Monet’s Garden at Giverny. Alas, it has not because little did I realize at the time, my yard has too much shade in summer to adequately support many of the flora I desire. However, I do have trees. Beautiful, towering, strong, and like my kids, leave a huge mess of leaves and broken branches that we incessantly clean off the crop of weeds we call a lawn, over one-third of an acre.
Life sometimes isn’t what you bargained for, but I suppose we have to find the good in things and work within our minds to cope and look forward to the next chapter. Maybe the trials and waiting periods we endure are meant to bring us closer to our Creator and each other. I do know that this morning, after writing the draft of this piece, we admired with amusement the many squirrels that scamper in erratic patterns throughout our wonderland of surrounding trees, as the snow lazily cascaded in billowy flakes, adding to the pile that blocks exit from the drive to the street.
Going back to work has brought another adjustment for my family, who had become blissfully accustomed to my availability and practice of the domestic arts. The location of my new place of employment puts me within fifteen minutes of visiting my father, who continues to progress in his ability to walk and balance. He is still using the walker, but again I am expecting him to upgrade to using a cane. I know he sees himself holding a golf club again, even if only to imagine himself a lion overlooking a fairway…from the 19th hole with his buddies. I also know that he misses his winter crew that goes to the indoor range and then meets for coffee and cookies at McDonald’s.
The power of our imagination is a gift, but it has in its capacity the potential to remove us so far from reality that it can become a liability. Someone recommended the film “Her” to my husband, and we went to see it. It’s about an affable fellow who is struggling within himself about his impending divorce from a neurotic wife who has blamed him, undeservedly, for things. The story takes place in LA in the not-so-distant future when everyone is thoroughly connected to technology, and that they unwittingly separate from real human connections and result in a type of anomie (Originated by Emile Durkeim and evolved to Strain Theory most recently by Zhang Jie). This portrays a society where although a populous place, it still leaves souls very lonely. The protagonist becomes enamored by a virtual reality prompted by purchase of an artificial intelligent operating system. It is like Apple’s Siri on steroids where the “personality” of the system becomes the seemingly perfect companion, except that “she” is not real. It makes a strong statement and a warning to us.
As I do have many residents in my household, I see the ubiquitous technology keeps us entertained, connected to people outside our home, and can easily inhibit us from conversing, sharing, and connecting with each other. It seems like the only bonding we do is when we watch a video or show together, or if we completely leave the home—spend money—and do something outside. Normally, the walk or bike ride would suffice, but in this season the options have a higher price tag. The least would be going to a restaurant or to chat over a cup of coffee. A family vacation would be ideal, but just not feasible now; and it won’t be when spring break rolls around, the kids buzz out to hang with friends, and we stay home to clean and pickup sticks in the yard. Then we may expectantly look for crocus along the edge of the driveway and whack a tennis ball with a real person on the other side of the court.
…Meanwhile, we’ll invite them to bond with us as we cheer the Broncos!