The Chapel of Saint Augustine

Sunday service, adorned with closed toed shoes, wide-brimmed hat, comfortable breezy,  easy wearing cotton and hands graced with gloves.

Out the kitchen, push the button, raise the garage door,  step into sunshine,  breathe deep,  The Chapel of Saint Augustine awaits.

Choke open,  pull the cord, one,  twice, roaring  felt only in my hands, melody of mowing today Simon and Garfunkel,  America to start.

iPod buds in place, all the way up,  exhale.

Grasp the handle, push down the long drive,  spy the uneven course ahead, irregular blades, soon to be mended, soon all will be right, even and orderly.

Where to begin, vary direction but not destination;  up and down, north to south,  or east to west,  side to side.

Step onto the soft green, begin. Over lap my steps, so nothing is missed.

Scold not the blades with the sharp scalpel, a gentle reminder is all that is needed.  Too short and the fire flies will not come to play, too short and the birds have no errands with insects, too short and the blades brown in the sun. Softly tend.

Round the  humble deciduous faithful. The faithful who allow themselves to be stripped bare with each season.  They know the sun will come again, that the seasons are just seasons. The humble  deciduous faithful, take care with the earth around their feet, even the faithful have tender roots.

Once shorn, the edges stand mocking, a fringe that needs to be cut down to size. The bright orange  electric cord trails as I walk the edge, trimmer turned. A dark smooth edge the goal, a groove of dirt, a barrier of earth, a clean border between living green and hard stone, an outline like children do with crayons on a colored page.

The granular molasses is then tossed on,  corn meal too,  feed the earth,  my chapel foundations strong from years of  worship.  I smell the sweet organic food, stuff of strength and safety. Here I stop, turn off the music, sit  in quiet, listen to the birds, and have my malted  liquid communion in full sun.  The winds blow, make the faithful dance and bow in their new dresses of spring.

Mr. Cardinal sings, his chirps are short each a triplet of sound, seeming to shout … look at me… look at me…look at me!

And one does,  finds him high above in the canopy hidden in the green a bold splash of red to accompany his bold song.

Mrs. Cardinal answers, a single… nip.

A single reply, less for show, a serious reply, no time to play.

The lizards crawl along the stone walls, males stop to show their push ups, spread wide to enlarge their width and breadth, and expose their folded chin colored displays, all lonely looking for love, these signs of courtship.

The zipper spider,  she weaves her wonders without rest between house and tree, her yellow bright as she is busy, busy,  ever busy making ready.

The geckos are still hidden, in their space above my door, they will come again tonight, when porch light draws their food close, I watch their chubby fingers wide mouths quick to catch the moths, their buffet filled by the porch light nightly.

The smell of the weed killer turns my attention to the side yard. He is there,  spraying poison onto his weeds, into the air, where it then leeches into my nose, and onto my green carpet,  contaminating my chapel. I take out the silent ear buds, and nod, my face flush as he sees me, waves and crosses to me,  pernicious liquid still in his hand.

I retain my composure as he says, “Boy, I’ve been watching you… you really have some skill with that weed whacker”

my mind purrs ahead…I think I could knock him down and use the electic trimmer on his jugular, the iron from his blood would feed my roses….but alas, the poison in his hands would spill out and contaminate my chapel  further…

I remain silent, looking up at the uninitiated. I have had the conversion conversation before, many times, tried my best to sway him. He compliments, praises and smiles his empty-headed smile, then retreats,  and remains devout to his toxic yard maintainance routine.

“How do you like that electric blower there?  I asked for one this year as a father’s day present…”

I rise and turn the blower on him, literally. I blow his feet, then the woman made air whips his pant legs, his lower legs, and I start to rise with the wind a soft smile grows both inside and out.

He laughs, “That is powerful! ….You sure work hard on this lawn.”

you have no idea…

His laugh stops, and he waves me off. I am kind and turn the blower off,  he knows not how much I wanted to just blow him away.

“It isn’t work, it is worship, and this… is my  sanctuary,”  I hold my arms out wide…

He takes a few steps in retreat, literally taken aback by my words.  He a man of wood and brick churches that house a grey old man-god, one who rules with fear. He looks at me then, and smiles a quick smile, walks away, his poison ready in  his hand, heart, mind and tongue.

He retreats words unspoken, so unworthy.  He turns around once as if to see if I am still watching, and I am.

I am always watching.

I watch as they all cross my yard, walk up my path,  handing me cards for lawn service. I watch as they stop their trucks, shaking their heads, approach me and hand me their lines. I listen, nod and take a card, they offer free first time services, offer to free up my time,

” A lady such as you should not be mowing,” they chant.

I send them all away. They do not understand.

I am not a lady, I am a knight-errant, this is not lawn work, this is my sanctuary, the green fresh Chapel of Saint Augustine, and you are all deemed unworthy of its worship.

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