I’m obsessed with spring. Year after year, large piles of snow give way to an awakening earth underneath, and I am still no closer to understanding how it happens. What is the trigger? How do these crocuses know that even under two feet of snow, it is time to rise and shine? How do trees bud and the birds come North? Must be magic, like my favorite illusionist David Anthony sawing a woman into pieces before my very own eyes. Illusions. Magic. The unfurling of new life from the darkened earth. I just can’t figure any of it out.
My rake and I do know a few things. We need to rid the lawn of the many acorns that the hapless squirrels have thrown around all winter. And eradicating the dead grass will make room for a lush new lawn when the April rains decide to cease. We even intuit that it is time to clean the beds and spruce them up.
Today was the day to order the tools of the trade for beautifying the beds. Don’t ask what I will do tomorrow when I come home from work and see four yards of mulch and 2.5 tons of river rock in my driveway. (That’s a magic trick for another day.) But a stop at the Rock Pile led to a chance encounter that put a smile on my face.
I saw him near the bananas. No working mother of three can ever leave the house on just one errand, so after ordering the mulch, I headed to the grocery. Halfway through the produce section, I stopped dead. The gentleman with the twinkle in his eyes looked very familiar.
“Excuse me,” I said. (I live big, and have no qualms about making a fool out of myself near the mangoes.) “Is your name Tommy Burns?”
“Yes,” he replied. There was that twinkle again.
“My name is Katie Kraven. Do you happen to remember my dad?”
He was as shocked as I was, and broke into a huge grin.
I have vague memories of this man who I know played a huge role in my father’s life. He helped to paint the house I lived in as a little girl. He is my sister’s godfather. And he was a role model, mentor and friend to my dad for years.
But time has gotten away from us and it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen him. He hugged me and grabbed my hand. He told a few funny stories about his great-grandkids, their antics, and his removable teeth. He explained that although his kids have moved around the country, he lives in the same house where he’s been for decades. A few moments to catch up, and then he was gone, with his bag of lettuce and one yellow banana.
I love the magic of these freeze-frame moments, these chance encounters that come seemingly out of the blue. I know who he was to my father. And I know the positive impact he had on my dad’s life. But how do you reconcile that between the Vitamin Water and the organic chips? I don’t know all the details, and it is too much history to relive at this point, but I know Tommy’s impact somehow must ring in me still.
Magic, I tell you. How else to explain that the people we need, the reminders that can heal us, are like daffodils popping through the earth or rabbits pulled from black hats? They have all been hiding in plain sight all along. I’m pretty convinced that this is the way with most miracles. With random grocery moments. With bulbs that blossom into beauty. With new eyes on old realities, and new hope in the darkest moments.
So many blessing are hiding in plain sight. And it just takes a little raking and a little wonder to uncover them.