Everyday Magic

After the Storm

The story you’re about to read is a metaphor.

It’s also true.


The storm comes yesterday out of the West, where the sunset should be.  Instead, there’s a fast-moving bank of black clouds.  I feel it as a pressure behind my eyes first, and then the first clap of thunder cracks over the horizon.

I take a glass of wine with me out onto the little back stoop … lean my arms against the railing and look out over the valley, like someone who’s come to watch the most primal sort of exhibition.

(I’ve always been like this — both terrified of storms and drawn irresistibly into them.)

The clouds churn behind the trees; lightning zags close.  I should go inside, but I don’t.  I can’t look away.

I wait, and wait, until an invisible wall of air slams into the big oak and then the beech, bending them backwards, thrashing through the limbs.  The wind presses me to the screen door at my back and I gasp.

I Sing the Body Electric — all the neurons inside me crackling and standing at attention.

I am still singing when the rain comes roaring through the trees.


Two hours later, I walk out the front door and see this, left just beside the stoop like a fragile, bejeweled gift, its message still mysterious … 


This much I know:  even the most reckless things can sometimes leave a little gentleness and beauty in their wake. ❤



Signs & Small Wonders

When a Single Leaf Changes the Course of the Day: Day Thirty-Six

(Sometimes it’s tough to feel at home in your own city.  Which is why I’ve given myself a challenge:  each day, for forty days, I’m going to find *one* thing I love about this place.  And then I’m going to tell you about it.  If you want to follow my journey, start here.  Today is Day Thirty-Six). 

Today was one of those days when I found myself wishing and praying under my breath that an extra few hours might magically appear somewhere.

I had a list of errands as long as my arm.

Thanksgiving dishes to cook.

A church event to attend.


I swung by the house around lunchtime to drop off a load of groceries.  I parked the car in the driveway, got out of the driver’s seat and opened the door behind mine.  Just as I reached for a bag of groceries, a single oak leaf floated down from the tree above me, brushed briefly against my hair, and came to rest on the car seat right in front of me:


And I stopped what I was doing and stared.

I recognize an invitation when I see one.


When T and I started house-hunting in Roanoke three years ago, we looked for one thing above all else:  trees.

I knew I wanted to live in the city, but I also knew I wanted to watch the sky through a filagree of green.  And I wanted old trees:  the bigger, the better.

Because my husband works in real estate, we looked at a lot of houses.  Like, a lot.  We looked at so many that we started giving our favorites special names just to keep them straight:

The House on the Hill.

Walden Cottage.

The Bed-and-Breakfast House.

Back then, we called the house I live in now “Looming Tree,” because an enormous old oak stretched over the front yard, leaning crookedly across the driveway.  A child’s swing swayed gently in the breeze from a single, muscular limb.

We looked at fancier houses.  And bigger ones.  And places in much more posh neighborhoods.  But honestly, this dollhouse — a simple mid-century cottage on a tenth-of-an-acre lot — really got to me.

Mostly, I think it was that tree.


Fast forward two and a half years.  Most days?  I don’t even really see that tree.  I mean actually *see* it.

Meanwhile, it’s November now, and the front yard is littered with so many leaves you have to kick your way through.

Leaves snag under my windshield wipers.  They clog the gutters, catch in my hair.  They collect on the front stoop and blow into the foyer whenever I open the front door.

We haven’t even started raking yet, and there must be 50 bags’ worth we’ll need to get up before the city comes to collect them.  I would be lying if I told you this wasn’t the subject of considerable complaint.

But today?

Today, for just one moment, that single leaf settles on me like a crown.  Then it lifts off and trembles to rest on the car seat in front of me.

And I stop.

Turn around and look up at the bronze-leafed limbs above me.

I take a breath…


This place is good.