Thursday I left my west Florida town to drive to my mom's house on the farm, south and east of here in a part of the state where the earth is rich and palms grow alongside oaks.
I was tired, mentally and physically, and just needed to be with my Mama. Anti-anxiety pills, visualization and meditation can only do so much. I've watered my garden, talked to my plants and sung to my kittens and cats. Even the solid comfort of my husband's company can't polish the rough spots of my soul that are smoothed and soothed by being in my mother's presence.
The further east I go the richer the fragrance of the soil becomes and the healthier the shade of green of the wild growth along the roadside. I take the back way to the farm down two-lane roads to avoid traffic and see the water-meadows, full now of reedy weeds with yellow pom-pom heads, and the road-side stands selling tomatoes and melons. The last of the two-lane roads before US 19/27 is used so little that the asphalt has shifted and cracked along the pollen-yellow center line and allowed a tiny patch of grass to sprout.
The road leading to Mama's bright, happy house winds over a hill and past a pond, often past pigs grazing on the right of way under the watchful eye of a billygoat. They belong to my uncle and are probably the most relaxed livestock in the Southeast.
She greets me in the driveway and we drag all of my pack-for-two-weeks-for-three-days stuff into the house, passing the stinky black lab and lazy farm cats up the garage stairs and into the kitchen. A little tiny grey kitten is staggering across the floor of the garage and Mama says that it is the only surviving member of Princess' last litter; Princess is a long-limbed black and white beauty who has been (up to this point) a very good mother. Princess won't nurse this baby.
We bring the baby in and take turns holding and feeding her with a small syringe, talking all the time of what we'll do next, where we'll go, what is happening with family, all comforting topics and I feel my neck muscles loosen for the first time in weeks.
We spend the next few days tumbling from the farm to town to my favorite aunt's house, feeding the kitten (who sleeps in a snuggie bed at the bottom of my bed), talking and laughing. Mama is so easy to be with, open and loving and sharing. Her grace is everywhere and she believes that Princess will go back to being a good mother and at least groom the baby. She will groom, but roughly so we bring the little thing back into the house.
The sun is high and strong everywhere we go and the heat in some places is stifling. We go to a place Mama and Aunt KayKay call "The Place with Pretty Stuff." I don't think it even has a real name. It is a couple of acres just off the highway with a blacktop apron full of cement statuary and metal sculptures and two large metal buildings with no A/C or fans but stacked with fascinating merchandise.
Mama wants me to pick a sink from the vibrantly patterned collection in the first building. The sinks are from Mexico and painted ceramics; most are a palette of flowers, some are dominated by sunflowers or tropical fish. I am drawn to one with pale blue calla lillies on a darker blue, a simple pattern with touches of matte gold and buff. Peaceful.
Mama and KayKay are clearly surprised, it almost seems as if bets were taken as to which I'd choose:)
KayKay pushes the sink I've mentally dubbed "flowerpower" for the rainbow colored flowers and their flow from one to another. "I thought you'd like this one, it looks like your plates from your first wedding!"
I say, "No, that's who I was then. This is who I have become."
And that's true. I was once a wild melange of red and orange and purple and green and a yellow that would hurt the eye. I've changed, found who I should be, and I am much more peaceful. There is still some yellow in me but it is the soft yellow of fresh butter, sometimes even the icy yellow of a cut lemon, but I am mostly blue and green.
When I am feeling best I am the color of a richly blue summer sky wrapped around the deep green of spring pine-needles. I had dulled down to the occasional fitful grey-blue of February skies and no green at all before I went to see Mama.
We walked across the lot, Mama in her sun hat and the rest of us bare-headed and only me fair enough to be in danger of burning or fainting from heat. At least as far as Mama is concerned. I am still her baby even on the shady side of 40 and that is a comforting thought at any time.
The salesman wants to show me everything and talk the whole while. He knows where every breeze pops in the complex. Mama catches him talking to me at the back of the first building, me between a power pole and the building's corner. He said there was always a breeze there and the prevailing winds proved him true.
The wind snatched my damp hair from my neck and sent it out like a flag behind me.
I was still growing redder from the direct sun and I think Mama could feel my skin heating even from ten feet away. I was happy - hot sun overhead, heated air around and a breeze to keep my hair moving.
"Sweetheart, you need to come into the shade before you faint."
It was so very hot, and her words were sent with the warmth of love, but they splashed on me like the cool water from the porch spigot at the old farm house.
I love the heat, its depth and thickness; the wealth offered by the sun to my skin and my self, and the cool places my mother provides when the heat is too great for me, when being a grown-up is just too hard.
We kept sharing the feeding and petting of little Possum kitty, so named for her genrally odd appearance and, in my case, in hope that an ugly name would drive the bad spirits away from stealing her. She can't hold her head up too well and walks like a drunk so she needs as much Mama attention as she can get.
I drove back west today with a full heart and a smooth sould. My fingers always want to add a 'd' to "soul" so there must be a reason. Maybe I have a 'sould,' a sun-soaked vitamin-d soul instead of the garden variety white bible toting soul:)
I came home with the happiness I'd been missing.
It's the stuff that lets me do laundry with a good attitude, read deadly dull work crap so I can get to the good stuff that makes me think (it's like shelling nuts, the work to get to the good).
I am happy, peacefully happy. I plan to walk in the sun again tomorrow and to talk to my mother on the phone to soak in some extra food for my heart.
Sometimes a girl just needs her Mama.