The morning commute to Calvin's school doubles in length this month as they start their day at another campus, something that happens on and off throughout the school year. It makes what is usually a relatively quick drive quite a bit less so, and as I load into the car each day to do it again, feeling tempted once in a while to be bitter about it, I try to stay focused on the blessing in it. For one, it means more time in the car with him, which really is one of my favorite times that we share together these days. Not that we don't have plenty of fun and lovely moments otherwise, but there's something quite nice about driving together, isn't there? Once we're past the age of "are we there yet" and "I have to go to the bathroom!", that is. The attention we can give one another is undivided in such a setting, each strapped into the seat next to one another with a determined length of time ahead of us with nothing on the list but to drive. The conversation wanders from music to skateboarding to politics, from school and dating and his future plans, then back again. Silence happens too, and that's nice, in the sleepy morning as we wind the country back roads and notice the changes in the season that happen from week to week and month to month. "Put your phone away. Be here." I only sometimes have to remind him, and though he won't admit it, I swear there's a bit of relief in that. He never complains about it, anyway.
Sometimes, I have all the other kids with me too, and that's an opportunity for a good podcast or an audio book - we've been making our way through Encounters with Richard Nelson lately, each taking turns choosing the animal episode we listen to next (they never forget whose turn it is). Or there is music, or we tell a story. Or sometimes, stop somewhere fun to play for a minute. There is less silence on those drives.
And then, there are times when I end up alone for that drive. And oh, that's a dreamy thing too. A little bit of peace and quiet before diving into the work and flurry of the day that inevitably follows. This morning was almost like that - on the way home, Annabel was quite happy to be looking at the books in her bag and surprisingly not chatty (so rare for her that I fear she's coming down with something. Fingers crossed it was just a really captivating book she found). And in that silence I got to thinking of the rain that began last night and appears to be happening in drizzles throughout the week ahead. Though I know it is wonderful for the garden and a true gift for the earth, I will admit that selfishly I feel a little bit sad sometimes about the rain during times like this. There is nothing stronger this time of year than the pull to the garden, and from talking to friends I know I am not alone in this strong physical desire. It's the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before closing my eyes at night. My body craves it this time of year, and I do my best - amidst all the other demands on our days - to heed the call. Because I want to, because I love it. And it feels so good - stretching out like that after what is always a bit of a long winter (despite how little snow we had).
I was feeling a bit of that angst this morning as I drove home, wondering how now we would spend this day, as the garden work I really wanted to do was surely out of the question. And somewhere on one of those windy country roads, maybe as I passed another pasture full of someone else's sheep happily grazing in the misty grey morning, and I had many moments of complete thought all to myself to think the thoughts through....I decided to let that urge for the garden go, and to give into the blessing of the rain. For with it, there is no question or choice in how the day will be spent and that's certainly a gift, isn't it? It is, or it can be, a relief. That today, without feeling pulled out of doors, we will give into and dive fully upon the work and play that must be done indoors. And in letting that go - I need no longer worry about being out there, but instead be fully in here. It's just a shift, a little mental one, the feeling of a choice made rather than having been decided for me.....but sometimes, that little shift makes all the difference. In the big picture of life, most definitely, and sometimes in the small day-to-day as well. The blessing in the drive. And in the rain. It's always there.