The work of happiness
For what is happiness but growth in peace?
My garden unfurls in a state of benign neglect.
The spiderwort, echinacea, black-eyed susans, and Canada anemone are running riot. The yarrow flops over; the rosemary fights for a spot of sun; the sedum and Japanese anemones marshal their energies for the autumn bloom. Everything is massive, overgrown, aggressive. I pulled out a pokeweed that was about seven feet tall. I cut back the undignified dwarf yew with the neighbor’s hedge trimmer. I tried to thin out dozens of spiderwort clumps. Still, it looks like a jungle.
In my prior childless life, I would have exercised more control, but I find that watering, weeding, and trimming no longer top my weekend priority list. Instead, even though it is not as aesthetically pleasing as it once was, I am proud of how the garden has taken on a life of its own. It doesn’t need me anymore. I am a mostly passive observer. I fight off the invasives and let everything else do what it will.
One day, perhaps, I will take up my trowel with more authority, but for now, I am happy to have the plants do what they want to do.
The Work of Happiness
I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.
So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.
For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life's span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.
Dogs to get one day*
Greyhound (retired racer)
*when my children are in middle school and don’t love me anymore; when I have recovered from a decade of the intensity of German shepherds; when I look to the future, I look to quiet, fussy, sensitive dogs; dogs who look good in an embroidered slip collar; dogs who want to watch you read a novel; dogs who have no interest in chasing a Frisbee or digging a tunnel or barking triumphantly at a stranger; dogs who might need a sweater to go out in the rain; dogs who aren’t really FOR anything except being a perpetual walking companion for a middle-aged woman
Please invite me over to power-tidy one of your closets. The more over-stuffed the better. My fingers are itching to do some aggressive organizing. I have some of my own to attend to, but I want an unfamiliar challenge.
Kudos, Rachel Cusk
Womb, Leah Hazard
The Slightly Greener Method, Tonya Harris
The Death of Adam, Marilynne Robinson