Well here we are, Nature’s in-between, as when the clothes are picked up off the floor but the bed still isn’t made. It snowed last night but more than a few trees are clutching their pale yellow leaves like a bad nicotine habit, and while it was in the mid-forties yesterday it was freezing last night.
Our family is in that in-between time too, waiting for the first grandchild. She or he, often referred to as “it” since mom and dad have chosen not to know, is predicted to arrive around Thanksgiving. Actually, we have a better idea of when she (my prediction) was conceived than we do the day she’ll be born. The grandparents estimate it was in the Okefenokee Swamp when the happy couple was canoe-camping last spring. Ever since our devious minds figured that out, we have been calling the little tyke, “Gator-tot.”
In-between times are by nature somewhat anxious and inpatient.
Imagine how all those Congress-elect folks are feeling as they get ready to start a new job with everyone watching. Being an elected official these days, would be akin to a dog on a leash forced to relieve itself on schedule in public twice daily. 435 House members and 100 Senators know there is a battle brewing and they are all searching for that piece of high ground to fight from. But on that field of battle the high ground keeps moving with the ever-changing lows, which of course feeds the anxiety.
One good strategy for occupying the in-between times, is to simply do something. That is a recipe, by the way, for contending with any anxiety: when we do not have control, find something to do or accomplish no matter how inconsequential. I have been refinishing the family cradle.
My mother-in-law is an amazing woman with a field of talents that puts me to shame. Sixty-four years ago, she made a cradle while expecting her third child. She didn’t just design and construct it, she carved it too. There are three rows of hand-carved starbursts on each side panel, and at each end, above two rows of starbursts, there are two encircled symbols on both the outside and inside. Gator-tot will be the first great-grandchild in the family, and the first of a third generation to rock in Gramma’s cradle. Though it has been a daunting responsibility for which I have limited talents, I have navigated the in-between by refurbishing it with love and care. It has helped the waiting.
The gnarly old oak I often write about, the one I look at most days as I write, hangs onto her leaves longer than all the other trees. That is because she is an oak. The catalpa on the other side of the house, hangs onto her elephant-ear size leaves longer than most too. She likes to wait a few days after we have raked thousands of maple leaves before dropping them all in a night. But the oak, wise and wizened dowager that she is, will not let go her leaves until she’s good and ready. Even now most of them are still green. This is an anxious in-between time for trees too, and the old oak navigates it with a grace and style I envy.