One Possible Thing Before Breakfast

The dogs are shedding their winter coats, and every day I comb them out, ranking their fur outside on the grass. Loose hairs have been falling from my head too. I sweep up the thirteen-inch-long strands of my fallen hair that collected on our wood floor and then wound around my toes. And then suddenly it occurs to me to stop brushing my hair inside the house. Instead, I brushed in my garden and let those fallen hairs blow in the wind, winding around the branches of the peach tree. Maybe a bird would weave my hairs into her nest.

Strikingly handsome weeds grow at the edge of my garden. It is a manageable plot stretching along the backyard fence line that borders the creek and its surrounding wilderness. Newly planted tomatoes, zucchini, cilantro, basil and serranos grow alongside wild snapdragons and hummingbird sage. A bird feeder stands in the middle, I add an extra handful of Sunflower seeds for the Scrub Jays who send the smaller feed to the ground like rain while searching for their favorite treats. Below the feeder, birdseed sprouts in a crazy tangle of wheat-like stalks, along with deep-apricot milkweed blossoms. And at the creeks edge a wild sunflower has appeared and is in full bloom.

You couldn’t plan to grow a garden like mine, certainly not in the city. You must be willing to embrace what nature offers.

A flock of ravens gossip harshly at me. Squash blossoms turn their yellow heads and face the sky, and the gift of berries dug from the backyard of a friend in Alaska, and the handful of Nasturtiums seeds I planted 18 years ago have multiplied so many times they now fill the hillside and are making their way down to the creek. The Nasturtium toss and bent in the wind waving their orange flowers.

Every morning I bush my hair in the garden. Strands of my hair fall to the earth or float away in the wind.

I take a few minutes to sit still, watch, and listen. A cottontail rabbit sneaks under the wire fence and a moment later a squirrel shimmies down the Avocado tree. At first they don’t see each other, but they both see me, and at the same moment they turn to flee and run smack into each other. They sit startled for a few seconds, nose to nose. Then both turn and run away. Then they stop running and come back, and for a few minutes they chase each other in circles around me. When I stand up they both head for the fence line and disappear.

Time in the garden sooths me. All of the tension and worries I've been carrying have dropped away. My hair continues to shed and thin, but I stop worrying about it. Time stops and a deep rightness takes hold of my being.