The sun drew me out to work in my garden and yard most of the day. I do not feel lonely when I am near to the earth. Most of the otherwise obnoxious sounds of my city street are drowned out in my communion with the earth, my ears tuned to the thudding soul of the soil. Maddie seems to understand this; as I am busy at my humble monk's work, she lies sprawled in the cold damp dirt content that her domain and all that abide in it are united, or she pants in the sun with an exquisite grin.
Placing my life in the rungs of the truest rickety ladder I've ever seen, I cut branch after branch with my meager pruning sheers; my plants need a channel of sunshine, and the recent rain produced growth in the wrong places. Something small and shy cringes with each clip, but each falling twiggy branch possesses a small relief, an exhale, a loss. I am familiar with the sharp inhale of preparation before a limb is pruned, followed by the dull ache from an open wound that knows and wants the sun.
Climbing down safely- my feet thank and honor the earth for her firmness- I am pleased to see that my work has not been in vain: a beam of sun pours through the now scraggly and naked tree onto my runty shaded Japanese fern. Welcome, I say to the light, which has honored my invitation.
No one prepares a four year old, tip-toeing back to her bed in the cold night, to see a ghost-- a looming shadow at the end of the hall, a draped sheet with two darkened circles for eye holes, a trick-or-treat costume: not allowed in her home, for fear of the devil.
No one knew, or cared, that the the devil had already come upon her, laughing heartily, and not at night. He had been her best friend, her brother. At four, she had already played with the devil during daylight.
She gathered the ghost in her arms, cloaked herself in its shadow, carried it back to bed and, in the secret of the dark night, begged to know its white innocence.