The sun was still fairly warm last week when my husband decided he would mow the grass at our newly moved into base housing unit. The unusual aspect of what might be a routinely expected event was, at this base, they actually have a lawn service that takes care of mowing the grass in our neighborhood. The only little glitch to this wonderful service is that if you have a fence, which we do for our furry mutts, you have to mow the grass inside the fence yourself. This particular day after my husband finished mowing the inside-the-fence grass, he decided to go ahead and mow our front-of-the house grass, then the side-of-the-yard grass, after that he mowed the just—outside- the-fence grass, ending the afternoon with mowing even some of the community-yard grass. Somehow his continual mowing of grass, or performing a routine task, was giving him a certain sense of satisfaction and peace reminiscent to a feeling of “home,” like when he mowed the grass at our last house in southern Georgia.
So, I reasoned, this sense of peace and home must surely be why I decided to rake the rocks in our backyard while my husband was busy mowing. At least this is what I keep telling myself. For days, since our move-in I had been looking at some barren spots in our back yard. I noticed that there were a considerable number of rocks in the dirt in those barren spots. Whenever I went outside with our pups, I would stare at those rocks, thinking about why they were there. Did they occur naturally in the Maryland soil? Did the lawn men dump them there to fill in an uneven spot? In a way, I kept hoping to will them away, maybe with the help of a downpour, or by creating a more downward slope to the yard. At any rate, they “bugged” me. So, I did the only logical thing a person of great sanity would do, and I started to rake the rocks. As dust began to fly from the dry dirt, and I began to make small pebble hills of my rocks, I kept raking. I raked small pebbles, medium sized rocks, and even bigger rocks, some were so large I wondered if they were broken off from some early pre-historic part of earth’s core (I didn’t say I did well in geology class). These bigger rocks required extra skill, and finesse as I bore down with the tine of my little bitty rake because I have yet to uncover the big rake in our household goods.
While I was raking, thoughts began to form at the back of my brain that possibly there were other things I needed to be doing. Things like washing the growing mound of clothes that were sitting in the laundry room, sudsing a few of those dishes that were sitting in the sink, or trying to find a home for those random items you find in the bottom of packing boxes like the McDonalds toy your now “twenty-something” son had when he was a toddler. But…I kept right on raking those rocks. After my husband completed his mowing, I was still raking rocks after dinner. I was still raking rocks as the sun began to set over our little base house, I was still raking rocks, even fashioning a leftover cardboard box into a scoop to pick up the rocks and place them into a trash bag. All the while, as I raked rocks, I tried not to think too deeply about why I was raking those rocks. However, in the days to follow I realized it’s just one of those strange coping mechanisms military spouses use to gain some control over their lives. It’s what we do, when our world is rocked, big or small, yet again. On that particular day, I didn’t want figure out what household goods I needed to keep because they wouldn’t fit in the new house, I didn’t want to figure out how to place our knick-knacks in just the right way, so that my husband wouldn’t have to mow the entire neighborhood to regain a sense of home. I just wanted to rake rocks; this had a beginning, and hopefully an end. This was something I could take control over and master! This would give me a sense of peace. By the way, do you put bags of rocks in the trash can, or the recycle bin, or do you find someone’s dumpster and place them there in the dark of night? Just wondering!