You Old Bat

Posted: 30 April 2009 in Charlottesville, joy, observations

In the books, there is always an older, crazier woman living in the neighborhood.  She has cats and an overgrown garden.  Maybe she’s mean (get off my lawn!) and maybe she’s kooky (pottering around with dirty nails and straggly hair) but people steer clear of her.  The working adults don’t want it to rub off, assuming that this woman would have made better choices had she had her right mind, had the right opportunities, had the ambition.  The kids dart in and out, trying to get close enough to see but not wanting to get caught.  She always lives alone, or with the sickly husband or equally batty sister/cousin/other daughter/partner?

I caught a glimpse of that woman the other day.  She was in my yard, in my clothes, digging around my plants.  I had dirt smeared across my forehead because I hadn’t been wearing gloves (dirt, supposedly, releases serotonin).  I swatted at the occasional mosquito stuck in grime on my ankles.  The water at the house is off, so I only made it worse when I tried to rinse my hands with the stream from a small plastic bottle, dried them in muddy streaks on my shorts and tucked out of control strands behind my ear.  I suppose it wouldn’t have been as peculiar if I had been potting tulips or setting a bed of pansies.  Instead, I had been planting tiny echinacea roots (teas to head off colds), yarrow (to stop bleeding), feverfew (to tame migraines), lavender and oregano (for their astringent properties), lemon and bee balm for sore throat soothing and forget-me-nots for love.  Kitchen herbs are tucked into pots on the deck.

In that light I’m suddenly twenty years older and that much crazier.  Pretty soon I’ll be yelling at you damn kids to keep that ball out of my yard.

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