Easter and Mother’s Day have come and gone along with the tulips, which the deer ate a few nights ago; and the sounds of lawn mowers and birdsong are revving up for the season. The summer holidays are a heartbeat away. I am ready.
The barbecue is prepped, and the glorious sun that has graced recent days has gone down, bringing with it a light chill, and will rise again, with the promise of those summer days ahead. Squeeze has been playing on my iTunes lately, taking me back, back, back to those sometimes reckless and always hopeful eighties. My younger of two stepdaughters, dwelling upstairs as much as possible and guarding her desperately needed privacy –– I get it; I remember –– is as elusive as the rabbit poking around the neighborhood lately, which I’ve named Hazel.
We –– my neighbor and husband and I –– think Hazel is an escaped or lost pet. (We put out the word that she is here, but thus far, no one has come for her.) She has the coloring of an appaloosa and kohl-rimmed eyes, giving her an exotic, Cleopatra look; and when I call to her, she sometimes comes. We don’t have any pets. And for some reason, I have fallen in love with Hazel.
Just the thought of it, someone’s beloved pet now roaming our back yards like a freed captive or a fearful, lost creature, touches me. As an adoptee who once packed her paper bag suit case and sat on the front steps waiting for the adoption people to drive by and pick me up, as a woman who has never given birth to my own children but is now the stepmom to two loving girls, and as half of a petless and deeply happy couple, I find myself craving the unconditional love of an animal. Maybe it’s a version of spring fever; and if so, Hazel’s arrival was timely.
My neighbor texted me earlier today that Hazel was poking about her yard; and when I came home this evening, she was in our back yard, just behind where I backed in my car. I got out, and she stayed. This was progress, the staying. I talked to her in an embarrassingly singsong voice –– embarrassing, but she seemed to like it. She hung around for a bit, noshing on grass while I talked to her like an overeager stepmom. I wondered, as I wonder at other times, if she liked the singsong or was just being nice. Regardless, I was grateful. And overly optimistic or not, I had faith in her comfort with me just then. I mean, think of it: I had come home and there she was, and there she stayed for a little while, as comfort-seeking creatures will do. There we were.
With the window boxes filled and overflowing with black soil and tender plants, the scent of simmering stock and heady herbs fills the house. This is the precipice of the jubilant June days ahead. The sun has now gone down for today, but this is the beginning of it all, the long days of light that promise a forever and disappear before you know it.
We’ll keep an eye out for Hazel, welcoming her when she wants to share herself with us, and trying to provide the security a lost pet needs, knowing that her owner may show up at any time. The trees’ canopy will fill out with green, the plants will grow and stepdaughters will continue to discover and share splinters of their discoveries with us. Through it all, life’s cycle, we will plant and reap, love and weep, grow, change, care and dare to live.