I spent Saturday cleaning up my back yard. Cleaning up is putting it mildly.
A giant tree across the street from my house “snapped” in the snow and wind storm that put the airports of the Northeast in a lockdown and kept me from flying home to my family for Christmas. The mess that tree made — tearing down part of the gutter, blocking the front door with its trunk, ruining my fence and handmade gate — was mostly buried in snow and ice until just recently. Saturday was sunny and mild and I got out to at least start the work of picking up branches and pine needles and chunks of wood.
The more I uncovered, the more damage I found. I was heartsick. The walkway was no more, the crocus shoots I always looked forward to were smothered, my butterfly bush was crushed, there were potholes in the earth. I’d never get my yard back to the way it should be, certainly not for spring. Then I felt sad all over again that I’d missed a long-planned Christmas with my family.
I bent over near the swing set to pick up a silver tab in the soft mud. Why I bothered, I didn’t know. The yard looked like a trash heap anyway. Was it a battery? I wondered. I turned the small disc over: a blue letter E in a pink heart. The magnetic letter “E” from my daughter Evie’s bracelet! She’d be so happy! The bracelet was a present for her Christmas Eve birthday. She’d worn it for exactly two hours before losing the first of the four magnetic letters that spelled her name. She hadn’t worn it since. How could she? Her name was not “vie.”
I ran inside holding between my fingers what seemed like a little miracle. “Evie!” I called, “come see.” And suddenly I was full of thanksgiving. That the tree in fact had just missed falling on the house, and best of all that we’re about to fly out to visit my family for a spring vacation.