It was another in a series of hot summers, and nothing I was writing was selling, and Seattle’s dependable rain had ended weeks ago and now my lawn was dry. I didn’t like to sit on my back steps and look at a brown lawn rather than a green lawn. A brown lawn felt like a failed experiment, whereas a green lawn felt like a natural success. But the rain had stopped and there was nothing I could do. The sky giveth and then doesn’t giveth. Then my sister arrived. She had come to Seattle for the first time in years so that her young family could meet my young family. My sister always had something to do. I cannot remember a time from our childhood to our adulthood when she didn’t have something to do. She had recognized at an early age that she was happiest when she was doing something. Her idle time, as far as I could tell, was spent mostly figuring out what she should do next.
She arrived at my house full of the exact same energy with which she used to go sledding as a girl. She was always the last in our family to leave the slopes. She was doing something and didn’t want to stop doing it. She strode – that is really the only word to describe how she usually walked – into my back yard, and stopped. She looked disapprovingly at my lawn.
“What’s with the grass, Bill?”
I shrugged. “It’s July. It just stops raining for like two months every year. What can you do?”
“Well, you could water it.”
Water it. I looked at my abandoned hose and the spigot to which it was attached. I knew scientifically speaking that there was no difference between the water that came from that spigot and the water that fell from the sky except that I could summon water from the spigot whenever I wished. Yet rain seemed nourishing to me at that time, and the hose’s water seemed desperate and futile. Still, it was worth an experiment.
I ran the sprinkler every night for the remainder of her visit, sitting on my back steps overseeing what I summoned. By the time she left, my brown lawn had grown green highlights. I had disbelieved this resurrection long enough that its appearance was miraculous to me. But only for a moment. I went on to water all the things I wished to grow, and what I had once called miraculous I now called life.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.