There are a couple of inches of snow on the ground, and my neighborhood looks suddenly lovely, after a month or more of brown — dried mud and bitter cold, more like western Idaho than Iowa. I have spent the second half of this year like a dog chasing it’s tail; circling and circling and left with nothing but dizziness and frustration and joy. My days have been consumed with rebuilding our home. Steady buzz of a saw and the weight of a hammer in between the dirt under my nails and giggles from this tiny person who is in such a hurry to “be big like Mama”. When our plumbing failed in July, it set into motion a series of projects. The heart wrenching thud of a sledge hammer on plaster, cedar lathe below splintering into dust, mysterious cuts on my hands as I set mosaic tile, the perpetual stain which has become my manicure. (Earlier in the year it was red cedar, more recently it has been american walnut — there is a forest under my fingernails.) There have been victories and regrets, to be certain. There has been the hand to mouth desperation that only comes from large projects. But I can see our dreams under the sawdust, and I grab at his hand to try to show him, too. Some days, he sees them more clearly than others.
My tiny beautiful girl is desperate to grow up, and I am struggling with things like preschool programs, and whether to write up another grant request for the gardens or close the computer and paint pictures in her My Little Pony watercolor book with her. Because I can already hear her telling me to go away from some day in the not so distant future. She is raw emotion most days. She is fierce, and loving, and independent, and desperate to snuggle with me all at once. She begs for siblings — a brother and a sister. She wanders into my room fully dressed for the day one morning, and fights me for an hour to put on underwear the next. This is three, and there is nothing I can do but try to hang on, and love her with the same ferocity which flows from her little heart. Translation: The time is right for “mama guilt” to hit me full in the face on a daily basis.
And the gardens, like this impetuous child, pull at my heart as well. It is hard to work so hard for something based solely upon your belief that it is the right thing to do. It is exhilarating when someone else acknowledges that it is, in fact, the right thing to do. And it is an amazing feeling when you realize that just maybe, you have made a lasting and much-needed change in a community for the better. The ball has really begun rolling on this project, and I couldn’t be happier. Or more relieved.
To say I have fallen off the radar is an understatement.
I have never been so grateful for the ground to freeze. I have never wanted for snow more in my life. Suddenly, I am faced with a few months where I will be able to do any necessary work from my computer and regardless of the amount of daylight. And assuming I actually get the house finished up in the next month or two, I may even have time to spend doing other things. Time to pick up paint brushes. Time to write again. Time to build a huge fire in the fireplace and knit something on the sofa while she snuggles against me and we read Narnia. It feels a little strange, but I couldn’t be more excited for time to relax just a little.
So, I’m curious… What inspires you as an artist or a writer? What are you reading that reminds you that slowing down and experiencing everything in your day is the most zen thing you could do? How do you get started creating again once you have had several months of interruption?