Monday, August 16, 2010

A Warm Cleansing Rain

I thought that I – a mother and her young going out to face the unforgiving world – was alone. We hauled our belongings, some worn out furniture and clothing, but mostly musical instruments and accessories, into the old farmhouse on top of Pocket Mountain.

As a perennial hermitess, I was accustomed to a solitary lifestyle and actually preferred solitude. I had a rich inner life that I nurtured and cultivated; it worked quite well.

This was different. Being alone by choice and being discarded by society are not the same. For the first time, my music no longer worked for me. Every time I tried to be that girl, that woman who navigated the world through her music, I froze. The notes were trapped inside of my head; I heard them all of the time, tapped out the fingering on my leg, and tried to ignore the pressure in my chest.

Before Pocket Mountain, I was a musician, home educator and farmer. I was always in a mode of creativity, playing my cornet on every stage and bandstand from Vermont to Gettysburg and playing my cello in the orchestra, throwing pottery, rescuing baby birds, performing with my children. That was my livelihood; I knew that. So, it made sense when no one would hire me. My resume was filled with music and farming; it was difficult to convince them that I would not be bored, quit and run away with the circus.

A few potential employers recognized me from my performances, “Why are you here?” They would ask with wide eyes.

“I am changing my career path.” My ears were ringing and I felt small as I was being swallowed up by mediocrity. I didn’t fit; I wasn’t convincing enough. I could not even be hired at a donut shop.

One time I applied for a job as a produce manager in the local grocery store. The woman at the Courtesy Booth looked suspiciously over her glasses. “Do you have experience in produce?”

“Yes.” I swallowed and my face heated.

“Where?” She cleared her throat.

“I know how to distinguish apples from oranges and I’ve eaten vast amounts of carrots and peppers in my life.” The sharp tongue would not subside. “I’m a farmer; I’ve grown a lot of this stuff. How difficult is it?”

“You need…blah, blah, blah…”

I walked away. I had never worked in a grocery store.

I had the windshield wipers on high but still could not see through the blinding rain. I drove anyway, barreling over the rutty dirt road to the top of the mountain. I squealed into the driveway. No one noticed or cared, but it felt good.

I stood motionless in the kitchen. My son was still playing his violin, only he switched from Bach to Sarasate. My daughter was in her secret nook in the root cellar where she strung green lights and sat on pillows stuffed in a potato bin writing poetry. My other son was away at college. He escaped our poverty.

The rain pounded on the roof. I could not decide what came next as I stood in the puddle that formed around my black heels, usually worn for concert performances. I slipped them off my feet, peeled off the damp panty hose and kicked them away.

I opened the door and walked out on the cement deck that overlooked the fields, mountains and a distant lake, all shrouded in a milky fog. I walked barefoot on the grass towards the rather large pond that I had named the “Froggie Pond” for obvious reasons. Like passionately sprinkled lemon drops, dandelions dotted the carpet of green grass as far as the eye could see. When I passed the apple orchard, the blossoms made me smile and even laugh a little. My soaking wet dress clung to me and large droplets of rain fell from my drenched curls. The old gray day became new. It was the first time that I went to the Froggie Pond in the rain. I stood beside a patch of quivering reeds on the water’s edge. It was a warm, cleansing rain. I knew I would return.

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