Double Portion of Miracles

My Warren hoe waits while I rest
The patio chairs nearby tempted me to sit a spell. My overworked muscles thought it a good idea.
           As our younger neighbor Peg observed earlier that day, “Tim and I are slowing down. We can’t accomplish half of what we did in a day five years ago.”
           I rested my hoe against a chair (so I wouldn’t forget my task at hand), sat, and took a long drink of cool water. In lifting my head facing west, I spied a wisp of cloud moving south in the patch of blue between pines. In a matter of lazy seconds, the dry atmosphere consumed the cloud.
           Mesmerized, I lingered, hoped for another vanishing act. It’s a miracle, I mused, when a white, gauzy blotch drifted and disappeared.
           Justifiably, I know our land—its flowers, food, and thistles—more intimately than I do the sky. Earthbound with eyes fixed on soil conditions throughout successive growing seasons, I’ve neglected the heavens above.
           Revived and diverted, I slowed my pace, paused my hoe and sought another cloud, and another, until my soul was satisfied with a double portion of miracles.
The first Larkspur to bloom in my gardens

           That evening after a homegrown asparagus dinner, my husband found his place on the living room sofa. I returned to my study.
“Listen to this,” he said from his supine position.
“Is it bad news?” I replied.
“No. Wendell Berry.”
Safe enough. “One of his essays?”
“Yes. The Work of Local Culture.
I left my reading. “One of my favorites.”
My other half read aloud the opening of Berry’s essay published in 1988.
For many years, my walks have taken me down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather’s farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and I never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know, the greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth.
Mel continued to list the dead and decaying matter the Kentucky poet and farmer saw in the bucket that created soil. We've witnessed this “momentous thing” on our little homestead in the most surprising places.
He read a story from Berry’s childhood about farmhands boiling eggs in the bucket, and that it remains on the fence post as a significant “sign” that reminds him of that story and his community’s culture.
Meanwhile, in my mind, the greatest miracle Berry ever heard of hung in a bucket on a fence post below the miracle of evaporating clouds. For we survive and thrive on the wonder of making soil. And this requires rain, wind, and sun.
Separate and harmonious, these miracles endure to sustain life as they have for unknown ages.
Dear Reader, consider this: God’s hand never wearies. From season to season, as Berry says, making earth “is the chief work of the world.”
The inventor of my Warren hoe understood this.