February 4 always marks the return of light to me, and, from my windows, the skies are clear today. February 4, 18 years ago, was my first day as a mother. My baby had been born in the deep of night, shortly before midnight, and the 4th was filled with radiance.
What’s 18 years over the span of millennia? Not even a heartbeat, perhaps, but for us, these years have been mightily full. Her younger sister and friends made tissue paper flowers and decorated the house with balloons and streamers, for this young woman who spent much of her childhood drawing or photographing blossoms.
It seemed fitting, then, that she returned from her birthday dinner with an exquisite bouquet from her boyfriend. The mistakes I’ve made as a parent could fill six novels. Yet here’s my tall beautiful daughter, her hands full of flowers, stepping into a world we’re offering her rife with political chaos, shot through with what should be acknowledged as unbridled vice, on a planet severely ailing.
And yet: flowers. The 11-year-olds and I stayed up late last night in front of the wood stove. Perhaps for no other reason than to delay bedtime, they began knitting with me. Kids and flowers: wily and beautiful.
February means spring isn’t that far in the offing, and spring means coltsfoot, those tiny gold blossoms thrusting up through the hardest and ugliest of roadsides, claiming their territory.
Our life here on earth:
to what shall we compare it?
Is it not like a rowboat
departing at daybreak,
leaving no trace of us in its wake?
― Takaha Shugyo, translated by Michael R. Burch