“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
When I was a little girl, we used to sing a song in Sunday School called “Popcorn Popping.” It was all about springtime, and how the blossoms covering an apricot tree look just like big bunches of popcorn. Growing up in central Oklahoma, I’d never seen an apricot, or any other fruit tree for that matter, in bloom. We grew horseflies the size of my hand, but fresh fruit came from the grocery store, and it was usually a not-so-delicious Red Delicious.
Now I live in Southern California, surrounded by orange groves, avocado trees, fields of lavender and gorgeous, sweet, fat herbs that grow like weeds. At the moment, I have an entire hillside filled with flowering arugula, because one year I let my crop go to seed. I take the garbage out, hop the fence behind my house and pick a salad for dinner. On my counter, you’ll almost always find giant bowls of lemons, avocados and tangerines in addition to whatever else happens to be in season from my garden. I am lucky; I am spoiled; and I do not forget it.
We spent our 85 degree Easter Sunday at a party at our friends’ place, perched on a hillside, overlooking the incredible Topa Topa mountains. We soaked up the sun, swam in the pool, chased the dogs away from the chickens and watched the kids, still in their wet bathing suits, squeal like crazy, collecting little colored eggs. Last night, I dragged my daughter away from her Cinderella Squinkie’s set, a gift from the Easter Bunny (or “E.B.,” as she calls him), and instructed her to plant herself on our front porch and breathe. The orange groves that surround our house are in bloom, and I am euphoric. I can’t bring myself to describe their scent as “perfume,” because I find most perfumes so cloying and artificial. But when the cool night air hits the dense blossoms . . . my whole world shifts. I don’t have words for it. It’s thrilling, awe-inspiring and somehow tranquil, all at the same time. Yes, it’s fireworks, but it’s also violin music that builds to a crescendo and crashing cymbals and holding your baby for the first time and the overwhelming rush of first love. I can’t think of any more words, but this is the music that was playing in my head as I filled my lungs with the hypnotic air:
We stayed outside until we started shivering, and as we turned to go inside, my daughter pointed to the sky and said, “Daddy, look! That’s Venus! I know, because it isn’t twinkling.” He said, “Yep. That’s how you know it’s a planet. Only stars twinkle, because, just like the sun, they’re on fire.”
When the stress and stuff of my world start to make me nuts, spending time outside and in awe is the quickest, surest way to wake up my tired soul. I woke up this morning filled with hope and courage and an avalanche of ideas. I feel like there’s literally nothing I can’t do. I needed the funk of February and March to push me, kicking and screaming, into the revitalization of Spring. Today I feel alive, REALLY alive. And now I am twinkling . . . because I’m on fire.