If you build it, it they will come. These famous words come from the classic movie, “Field of Dreams.” In the film a farmer has a vision from a dead baseball player that if he clears his crops and creates a professional baseball field, people will come, and it will be the success his struggling family needs.
His wife thought that he was crazy, not an unreasonable opinion. Yet he did, and they did. Talk about blind faith. How many of us have a dream that seems so unreasonable, so unattainable that we have let it age right along with us until it has slowly withered?
As a lyric within the musical “Evita” says, “It is hard to keep up momentum when you are the one you are following.” But as we enter a new season and the cool weather finally comes like a balm, perhaps we can try to work on even a tiny bit of a dream, just for our own enrichment.
Time is fleeting. In life there has been a yin for every yang. Lately my life has been an example. My backyard on Page Avenue in Los Banos was my favorite place in the world. The double lot was filled full of flowers and trees that I had planted. It was beautiful and peaceful.
I loved to watch the birds fly in and use my yard and my bird feeder as a banquet. I felt I was giving back to the nature that had long enchanted me. The yard had been in my trusted care for over 22 years and would be, I was sure, until I died.
Arriving in Fresno and seeing what was to be my new “home,” I was depressed. How could this place be my home? It was nothing like I had left. But then how could it be? Much as we may wish it so, things often change when we are not looking.
My duplex has a strip of a yard that is shaped like an L. At first there was not even a blade of grass. I watered and watered, and finally, behold, grass! Thick vibrant grass, not much of it, but still grass that I had helped create. I felt a small tinge of pride.
My home on Page had roses galore. I had planted many of them to honor a person or event. I loved those roses. I took a few precious petals with me when I left, held tightly in my hand. Clenched as they were, they did not survive the trip. I mourned the fact that I had taken them from their home.
My daughter, knowing my feelings, planted four small rose bushes right outside my bedroom window here in Fresno. They have started to bloom, especially enjoying our recent rain. I am trying to focus on the beauty of these fragile flowers and not to blame them for not being my beloved garden of the past, to appreciate them for themselves.
My son-in-law, Bryan, got a tall stand on which to hang my old birdhouse, placing it outside my sliding door in the living room. I put out some of the birdseed I had brought with me, mumbling that no birds would fly into the narrow space between the fence that separated me from my neighbor. But I was wrong.
One day I noticed my kitten, Lola Bunny, looking out the door, her tail twitching madly. There were one, two, three birds passionately eating from my birdhouse. They seemed thrilled to have found this out-of-the way dinery. I smiled, I had built it and they had come bringing with them a sense of home and place.
No, they were not my old birds. These birds were tiny and colorful, and I would need to think of them as my birds NOW. Since then, I can tell those first birds spread the word because I now have a steady flow of visitors daily.
Last year, when this beautiful season began, my world was very different. I felt as solid as the ground I stood on. This year has been a reminder of how to enjoy the moment. Life goes by fast, when we are not watching, and is as capricious as the wind.
Gone now is a relationship I trusted, the home that was my treasure, neighbors, friends, the solid knowledge of every street. Whoosh, everything’s changed. Now as I face my first autumn alone, I look out my office window at the tall pine tree that is my view. and I try to remind myself how much I love the season and all that follows.
But, I think, how can it ever be the same? The truth is it can’t. In every moment there are changes happening in our bodies and in the environment all around us. Each moment is new, the next is not promised.
There is a container in my garage filled with autumn decorations. I have not wanted to even look at them. What had they done wrong?. When I finish this I am going to bring it in and let the season out.
I will place my decorations with hope for a peaceful future, just as I had watered my grass, planted the roses and put out the bird house with the hope that if I “build it” the new memories will come.
“If you build it they will come” works both ways. When you are angry or sad you may not want to hear that. You may just want to linger in your righteous pain. If that is what you keep planted, then that will be what continues to come.
But if you start, even slowly, putting out the effort to build a new plan, and then wait… It may be slow like a rose or a gathering of hungry birds, but happier days, or at least more peaceful, will come.
In memoriam: One of the bad things about living away from Los Banos is not hearing when people have passed until their services are over. My words come late, but nonetheless sincere. I lost two friends, and Los Banos lost two amazing people recently.
Marg Benton was a mover and shaker, on the school board, active in Rotary and filling every need she could. She had an amazing smile and an even better laugh. Boy did she live her life fully! We have lost her way too soon.
Chuck Martin and I have been close for 30 years. We were in the Salvation Army together and just connected. Chuck was a happy server, he loved helping others. When I ran for the city council, what seems like a century ago, he walked the streets with me, putting up signs, and we talked and talked.
I knew the character of the man. I am saddened by his death, but trust he is happy now with the love of his life, his wife Lois, who had gone on ahead of him.