The little bird who tapped on my window was leaving me a message. I began to notice isolated bird song cutting improbably through the fog, and now patches of Snowdrops are popping up in meadows and woods, sometimes with purple crocus alongside. I haven’t examined the bare branches of our Japanese maple or rosebushes yet, but I expect they are preparing their entrance, too.
It has warmed up a little. Our temperatures are in the 40’s instead of 30’s, and some days have been brilliant with blue sky and sunshine. Not today, though. Gusts of wind disturb the fir trees, and the dawning day is misty and dark. I hope it improves for my visitor from California, here for only a few days, bringing the breath of home and evidence of the continuity of life and relationships.
For Sara has been the midwife to my life as a grandmother. We met through the internet. Six years ago, I was looking for a place to stay when my first grandchild, Nico, was born. Her house overlooking San Francisco Bay is 10 minutes from the house my son and his wife lived in at the time, close enough for me to be a nuisance, or help, depending on whom you are talking to, and on which day. We worked out a house exchange, her dramatic home in Oakland for stays at my then-house overlooking olive groves in France.
I stayed with her many times after that, on my frequent visits to learn how to be a grandparent and mother-in-law. And then another grand child came along, Nico’s little sister Gabriella, and another small creature to get to know and love. Then David married Holly and began a family. Now there is Malia and Sage, as blond and fair as Nico and Gabriella are brunette and olive skinned, and all the while, Sara and Sara’s house in Oakland was a refuge from the sometimes difficult, always humbling, always rewarding time learning more about love and relationships than I thought I would ever learn.
Without Sara’s reminders that the world outside my little family was still going on, that it was interesting and exciting and full of beauty, I would have completely lost perspective, though I did sometimes lose it anyway.
Now she is here in our old world house, connecting me to the teeming vitality of that time, arriving with the first signs that winter will soon be over.