Saturday, March 19, 2005

Lawn Boy 

A day at home alone: late sleep, coffee and cigarettes on the porch, the short stories of Arthur C. Clarke, an exceptionally large book with the heft of Spring.

Before me, the snow has pulled back from the concrete walkway like the red sea before Moses, revealing last year's lawn stained yellow green with the weight of a hundred Winter days.

Over the warm week I have taken great pride in raking the heavier snowpiles, spreading them onto adjacent sunlit damp spots. The glistening ice-jewels I scatter take but minutes to melt away, feeding the earth as they become meltwater.

I have pulled the leaves from the mulched strip along the porch base, exposing the tiniest bulb shoots -- perhaps too early, as they seem to be coming up more Big Bird than Oscar.

It is the first lawn in the neighborhood, and the first we have ever been able to call our own.

It will be ours for this single spring, and then we must move on.

Victims of boarding school rightsizing are thrown out of house and vocation simultaneous.

This life is more uncertain than most, these days. Contracts are beginning to come in at our peer schools across the country, and open positions filled; the peculiar job cycle of the prep school moves to a close.

And after dozens of letters of interest, one forum meat market, two full-day interview/visits, I am bereft of offers. The active search has stalled. New openings come slower, if at all; where once my inbox held a daily triplicate of possibility, it has remained empty of all but spam for days.

And in that context, each tiny yellowgreen tongue points skyward heavy with the dark secrets of the unknown, the mysterious promise of these tiny shoots and mudpockets more precious than a thousand thousand epiphanies.

Who knows if we will ever have a lawn of our own again?

We will celebrate it tenderly, while we can.

We will tend it as if it was the only thing in our headlong days we can control, because some days, it is.

We will leave it better than we found it, as in all things, despite our uncertainties, because we are who we are, and can be no less.

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