Rhonda Cagle

Posts Tagged ‘Seasons of Life’

Pots, Plants, and Other Thoughts for My Daughter

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Sitting outside under the stars on an early March evening is one of the benefits of living in the desert. In July, when other parts of the country are reveling in fire flies and 4th of July sparklers and we are gasping for a breeze in 100+ degree temperatures at 10:30 PM, I will not feel such generosity of spirit. But for tonight, the air is balmy and desert skies are dreamy under the light of Venus and a myriad of other heavenly hosts.

With my feet propped up on an ottoman, my gaze moves from Venus downward, toward a pot of newly planted marigolds. The wonder of unfurling feathery gold petals, the promise of tightly held buds, and lacy green leaves contrasts sharply against the worn pot that contains this slip of life. Frankly, the pot has seen better days. But I would rather part with my right arm than this beat up old pot.

The pot is garish; green paint chipping away from red terra cotta. Red and pink splotches form Van Gogh-styled flowers with yellow dots forming their centers. The paint is peeling, water and seasons of searing summer heat and winter’s freezing cold wearing through its carnival exterior. It is something only a mother can love.

My daughter painted this pot for me on an early spring afternoon more than 10 years ago. She was not quite 8-years-old. Before her nearly life-ending stay at Phoenix Children’s Hospital when a piece of steak ruptured her esophagus, causing 15 days in ICU and a less-than-2-percent survival rate. Before my divorce and re-marriage to Dennis. Before his sudden death due to cancer 3 years later. Before the housing market collapsed and I lost the home we had shared. Before I started over by purchasing and remodeling a foreclosed home in the West Valley. Before my marriage to Lorenzo. Before all the moments that seem both a breath away and lifetime ago.

In more ways than you can know, Megan, this pot bridges the span between the life before and the life that now exists. I remember your little fingers working diligently to create beauty only seen through the eyes of a little girl and her mom. I remember the sparkle in your eyes, the smile on your face, when you gave me the gift of your heart contained in the brushstrokes of this masterpiece. I remember the pride that shone in your eyes when I took it home and planted it with summer vincas. I remember all the seasons that came after, when I replaced old flowers with new ones, on new patios in new homes – creating new beauty and new memories – with you and your handcrafted pot at the center of each new space.

Tonight, I sit on the patio that will likely be the last one you list as your childhood home. Your pot is next to me, holding another round of blooms for yet another season of life. Like the flowers I have nurtured, you have blossomed. You are beautiful, vibrant, full of promise and potential. I show you off every chance I get, the most prized and cherished of all my cultivations. You have already weathered more seasons than most can – or will – endure. Those storms have created strong stock. You will bloom, not because of where you’re planted, but in spite of it. And you will bring beauty, elegance, and fragrance into the lives of all you grace.

In every sense of the word, you are being transplanted into a bigger pot – a larger world – before my eyes. Your roots are spreading, reaching, anchoring. I can only imagine the beauty and shelter you will offer the generations to come. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I suppose that’s why the little pot you gave me all those years ago is more precious to me than ever before. I can still hold it in my hands – still trace the brushstrokes your fingers made that early spring day. In your pot, I can still nurture tiny blossoms of beauty while watching your own take root in a new vessel you’re creating just for you. It’s a masterpiece your mother loves.

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The Art of Sipping

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

There is an irresistible draw to the invitation found in a deeply shaded patio and a glass of wine. On a warm spring afternoon, the combination is almost impossible for me to pass up. Unlike a glass of iced tea or lemon water which can be quickly gulped before going back to whatever task is at hand, a glass of wine must be sipped slowly, it’s complexities and subtleties demanding me to sit down and put my feet up in order to truly experience the gift of the vine and the skill of the vintner.

Just as there is an art to making wine, there is an art to sipping it. A good wine requires time – time to season, time to ferment, time to age. A good wine requires that you let it alone and let it be. At this stage of the winemaking process, there is no value in “doing,” only “being.” There are no shortcuts to crafting a good wine. And there are no shortcuts to truly enjoying the essence of the vine.

Although I appreciate the textures and flavors that comprise a good wine, it is the gift of time that makes an afternoon glass of wine truly valuable. Savoring a glass of good wine means I have to stop doing and simply be. I get to be still. In the stillness, the silence becomes filled with wisdom and beauty that is fragile and easily trampled in the frenetic pace of daily life.

Breezes bring scents of growing things to my attention. Smelling the sweetness of honeyed alyssum and lavender and the damp richness of soil warmed by the sun, I’m reminded to look for tender shoots of what might be growing in my own life and the lives of those around me. Sipping allows for contemplation and I remember the times when I’ve weeded with vigor, only to discover I’ve pulled out tiny tendrils of flowers that have seeded in the shelter of their elder specimens. It’s a good lesson in not judging too quickly and simply allowing things to germinate and grow for a season to see what is working its way out of life’s soil.

Sipping a while longer lets me see my surroundings with new perspective. The art of sipping holds a clearer vision of what presently surrounds me. It also offers time to envision the possibilities of what can be. This kind of unhurried observation gives insights into the seasons and rhythms of life. The dead, dried leaves of last year’s shade line the same branch that holds the tender sprigs of promise of respite from the coming summer’s heat. Eventually, the new growth will overtake the tree, but for a season, it is proof that death and life are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Fodder for continued thought on what this means in my own life, post-Dennis.

Swirling the last of the wine in my glass, I realize I’ve spent the last little while listening – to myself, to God, and to His creation. Sipping allows me to hear my soul’s breathing – the exhale of my hurts and fears, the inhale of heaven’s hope and healing. It lets me hear God; not in some big booming voice sort of way, but in the quiet insistence of a new idea infusing my brain with fresh creativity or the irrational reassurance that somehow, someway I will survive and find myself safely on the other side of circumstances that would have killed most people. And in the midst of my soul’s breathing is the sound of God’s creation, the steady heartbeat that reminds me that in spite of death and pain and uncertainty, life still holds moments of beauty, moments to be savored.

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