West Virginia Morning: Saturday

The house is quiet and I have not yet had my morning coffee. Through the bay window I am watching a male goldfinch feast on my fading purple coneflowers. He is so intent on plucking seeds from their dark, round eyes that he does not even notice when I draw near. Were it not for the glass I could reach out to touch him, stroke his golden beauty with my fingertips.

The dew is thick on the grass this morning, the air cool with a whisper of fall. At first light, I watered all my thirsty pots and my raised beds. By the end of it all, I too was soaked through. Back inside, I finished preparation for a no-knead rosemary garlic bread to pop in the oven later. It is rising in the window. Then I clipped some lavender and rosemary and twisted their woody stems together, curious. They are in water on the table, filling the kitchen with their spicy aromas.

I am still not used to the boys being gone. I try to be gentle with myself—it hasn’t yet been a week since Ted went back to school, not quite two since Jeffrey began his freshman year. We are officially empty-nesters, at least for a time. I still have summers to look forward to, and holidays. Time alone with my husband is sweet and we will settle into this. But I keep expecting them to come through the doors late at night or emerge on the steps with tousled hair early in the morning. This is a mother’s way of seeing, I suppose.

Yesterday, I picked my largest crop of pole beans and plucked enough jalapenos for a pint of pickling. My garden has been such a mess this year. I was overambitious with the tomatoes and they have choked the peppers. The tomatoes have been happy, and I have had a tomato sandwich for lunch every day in August; but my poblanos have not given up one piece of fruit. I’ve tried to make a sun-path for them, clipping out bits of roma and Earlygirl, but it is late and they may not give this year. Snails have been devouring the green beans and the Mexican bean beetle has made ghosts of the leaves on my squash and cucumber vines. Yesterday, as I picked beans, I noticed a vine had jumped the bed and latched on to my lilac bush nearby. One curving strand climbed all the way to the top and a cluster of beautiful beans dangled there, taunting me from ten feet above. Maybe the squirrels will find them? Or perhaps a bird. I was still able to pick enough for eight pints of canning, but none were so beautiful as that cluster on top of the lilac bush.

There is much to apply my heart to around here. Busy hands are the best medicine for the tiny ache inside but these quiet moments by the window also heal. I lift my hand and touch the glass with my fingers, as if—for the wanting— I could grasp his wildness through the pane. But at this one tiny movement from me he is gone, a streak of golden light winging through the cool air of morning.


  1. says

    Lovely post, Laura. Fall is whispering here too. In my mind’s eye, I see those beans dangling out of reach and I’m tormented. As a fellow empty nester (more or less), the longing is real and the quiet, strange, for sure!

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Laura, I always love hearing your exquisite words singing in this space. It seems to me that your goldfinch friend speaks of your boys, golden souls winging their way to adulthood. Robert Frost said that nothing gold can stay. How many autumn-gold leaves had he seen, goldfinches take wing, boys with golden laughter go off to college? Maybe all these gold-gatherers are not physically with us moment by moment, but they glow golden in our hearts, and that kind of gold never leaves. It lights a fire never to be extinguished.

  3. says

    So lovely and peace-giving as always, Laura! I’ve been thinking of a post to write about a little goldfinh that keeps visiting my windowsill, I think to gaze at some silk blue flowers I have inside. She perches and turns her head this way and that as if trying to puzzle the wonder of it behind the glass. But unlike your little fellow, I can’t even start towards the window from across the room before she spots me and speeds away. I have tried to be quick and stealthy but those little ones have eagle eyes! Blessings to you for new doors to open as this one semi-closes for now… Yes, as Lynn said, hold the gold of your boys…

  4. Paula Gamble says

    You are so lovely, Laura, like your words and your heart. May you continue to be gentle with yourself as God fills the ache. I love you, big sister!

  5. says

    You know how, when you read something or see something or hear something that dives deep into your bones and you think, “so THAT’S what I was thirsty for.”? Your words are like that, my friend, a cool, tall, refreshing drink of beauty.

    sighing with you at the absence of tall, grown children. They will come home. Trust me….and you will love them no less than you do now.

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