It’s going to be one of those over 100 degree weeks in Modesto – where we are known for water, wealth, contentment and health. I bet you’re wondering why I stay here, aren’t you? (Truth is: when I have to get out in this heat, I wonder why I stay here.) However, Modesto is a good town, mostly. We still smile at you on the street, most of the time. We still have an A&W. Our movie drive ins have given way to theatres with recliners. I wonder if that’s a response to the graying of the nation. We have a Costco and a Winco, and what else do you need? Gallo Winery is here and we’re in a valley that grows a good deal of the food consumed in the whole world. We have a junior college and the four-year is right down the road a bit. You can get frozen yogurt to beat the heat or you can swim in one a bazillion pools. And we’ve got a whole bunch of churches, I mean lots. All good.
But why I like Modsto the most, past that most of my kids, my friends, and my doctor are here, is that we look out for each other. I think that has to do a lot with there being a whole bunch of peope who love God in Modesto. We’ve got Love Modesto in April when thousands get together and do projects all over town. But that’s once a year. We also help relocate refugees through World Relief, care for the poor through a bunch of agencies. Lately, we’ve set up MOES, a tent city for the homeless, and people all over town support that, too. The Shower Shuttle folks, who offer free showers to the homeless in these really cool, decked out vans, have just added a laundry van, so the homeless can get their clothes clean. Imagine if you were on the street, how much those two blessings would mean to you. I like this part of us most because Jesus said to look out for the little guy, the one who can’t help himself. The one who, when you do something kind for him, can’t pay you back. We don’t need organizations to help us do that, by the way, or government. We can pull on our boots and do it on our own. Just a thought.
So yesterday we bought vegetable plants and flowers. It’s spring all right. We bought red and blue flowers for the blue pots – I don’t recall the names, but I’ll put a picture in here. We bought a pink rose tree to replace one that died last summer. And we bought tomatoes of all kinds, peppers of two kinds (I have to keep the hubs under control) and summer and zucchini squash. Then God rained on it all last night. Some were pretty dry, so this morning their arms are reached to heaven in thank you. Will throw in some Swiss Chard and green bean seeds for good measure. A radish or two if there’s room, green onions. My garden has gotten smaller as I’ve gotten “up there.” So there is a stopping place.
Here’s a thought. Before I put any of this in the ground, I have to prepare the ground. If you plant in weedy ground, those picker weeds strangle the good stuff. Makes me wonder about things Jesus said. He pointed out that weeds choke out good plants, but when the disciples asked Him if He wanted them to tear out the weeds, He said no, because it would tear out the good stuff too. Hmm, get the weeds first. Rocks, too. Though we don’t have much trouble with rocks. However, those weeds are prolific. Even if you thought you had every last one, just give it a week, and you’ll see you didn’t. Then I guess you gotta get them while they’re babies to avoid pulling the good stuff. But I’ve noticed they seem to mimic baby good plants. Is there a sinister force behind that? Could be.
So, what’s the point? For me, it’s about thoughts and who I am. Yeah, pretty fur stretch. But think about it. If we take a little time to converse with God before the day gets going (before we plant, so to speak) clean out the weeds, we’re going to have a better day. Then as the day goes on we stay mindful of what we’re thinking. Pick the baby dumb thoughts and toss them. What will God do with a mind garden so carefully tended?
The winds come up and the air cools. Little puffy clouds skip across the sky. Leaves fade from green to yellow to orange to red. Daylight shrinks.
My thoughts turn to pumpkins on the front porch, Indian corn on the coffee table and crunching leaves down the sidewalk. The action of summer slows to the last harvest. Apples are crisp and juicy. And my heart inhales.
If winter is dead, autumn is the sadness before the death. Why are it’s colors so happy, so warm? Is it because our Heavenly Father knew we would need the gold, amber and crimson to warm our chilly fingers and toes? Or is it His promise that spring will come again? Or maybe it’s His promise that death isn’t sad, but a new beginning.
OK, get ready. I’m feeling hinky.
May, as in May I …
- have another frozen yogurt, please?
- watch Steel Magnolias every year?
- play football with my grandsons, or attend a graduation?
- go barefoot in your house?
- explain how to paint with oils? How about the Gospel?
- go outside and only come in when it’s dark?
- tell you a story?
- hug you?
- plant Swiss chard in your flower bed?
- smell your roses, or better yet, honeysuckle?
- eat corn on the cob like a typewriter?
- drive through the alfalfa fields sucking in the aroma?
- stroke your labrador retriever’s ears?
- show you out.
I’m not sure when the first day of spring is. Never mind, whatever day the first poppy blooms, or a robin wings toward my rose arbor with a stick in her mouth, or a little girl in a sundress and white patent leather shoes dances down the sidewalk, those are the first days of spring. I like spring, but I don’t have allergies.
Around here, almond trees blossom first. It’s the only snow the Central Valley of California ever gets when they start dropping their petals. (Except maybe every ten years, for about a half hour.) The ground is carpeted in white, and people go into the orchards to take pictures of rejoicing.
Another terrific thing about spring is baby calves and lambs. All clean and jumping. Nudging their moms for milk and exploring their world. Soft to the touch and smelling earthy. And baby chicks are soft, too. I know you knew that already, but I would have been remiss to leave them out.
And then there’s turning on the swimming pool solar and checking the thermometer each day to see whether I can put in my toes yet. Brushing the conditioner and skimming almond blossoms off the top. Dreaming of the feel of the water rushing past and the Marco Polo games we’ll play.
And don’t forget planting the garden. The sweat of digging out the burmuda grass runners is exhilarating. Placing tiny seeds carefully and staking tomato plants, oh yeah. Holding the old man (a tender term) to only three screamingly hot pepper plants. Watering, scanning for new weeds, I love it!
So, let’s hear it for spring! Get out there and revel!