Telling Time


What time is it? I no longer check my cell, the kitchen clock, academic calendar, the clock in the car, or the chimes from Brother College tower. The sun wakes me, slipping through the leaves of the old white oak and the cracks of an old English stained-glass window. What time is it? Morning.


I carry a cup of coffee out to greet the three tomato plants that have climbed leaf by leaf up to the deck from the garden box in the yard. They may make the roof before the first frost. Hannah is ready for our morning rounds. Coffee break over.


We check the young cherry tree, first to be planted after unpacking. My earliest story/memory is a roped seat on a cherry tree and an old man singing as he helps me swing. What time is it? Long, long ago.


The holly, state tree to Delaware, are as tall as the neighbor’s whirligigs. Someday we’ll have privacy as well as berries. Green new deals make good neighbors. Soon and very soon.


The crepe myrtle is mustering a final blossom.  She’s new to me, planted on a whim, but I’m growing fond of the Advent purple she brings.


The small red cedar has rooted in the corner of the yard after a risky transplant from a crack in the sidewalk.  Its survival and thrival consoles me as I note the open space against the sky. The neighborly giant white pine fell into the arms of the Sugar Maple, surrendering in the middle of the last storm, but sparing our fence. “Grow”, I say, to the small cedar, known as the pencil tree. “You can be a Christmas tree. We’ll decorate you with seeds for the birds and the squirrels every year.” Christmas is coming.


I salute the old walnut tree that arches across the fence. I’ve come to make peace.  No need to swear under my breath as I dodge the green grenades that are lobbed into the yard. There are fewer than last fall when I had to put on a hard hat for the morning tour with Hannah.  I pull my red wagon next to the holly and begin to gather the nuts. Bill’s nifty-nabber, a tool for picking up stuff, makes the task easy when my back stiffens. It also helps me distinguish between darker nuts and dog poop. Hannah gets bored and goes back to the kitchen. It’s time for breakfast.


The redbud gets a grateful nod as I pass. Its heart-shaped leaves are working hard on their appointed task: make the metal shed missing a side and part of the roof disappear. Nice neighbor. Very messy. Sometimes the wisdom to accept the things you can’t change means you block the view. This will take some time


I come full circle and stop for a blessing by Mary who guarding a flowerless rose. She stands barefoot and expectant, arms open to the seasons of Falling and Rising. May there be time for every matter under heaven.