While we’re waiting for Spring to show up (the grass is getting a little greener, and there are tiny leaves on the honeysuckle), let me tell the true tale of peacock feathers and a divorce. In our first year of marriage, we were house-sitting for friends of friends. It was a wondrous mansion of a house on acres of land in the middle of the city—I had never stayed in a house so grand! There was a barn, a carriage house, and beautiful gardens with intricate iron lawn furniture, fountains, and interesting stone statues. We cared for their three dogs and tended the gardens—duties we were familiar with and comfortable doing. In the large expanse of lawn and garden lived a number of peacocks who needed nothing from us. They grazed their way through the yard during the day with their graceful, flowing tail feathers following them like a bridal train. At night they would perch in the trees and sound the alarm if anything untoward entered their domain. One evening we drove back home to check on things at our old farmhouse. While there, we got a phone call from my Mom and Dad with the news that they were divorcing. I literally fell to the floor when I heard those words. In shock, I rode back to the mansion—my world had changed. I can’t remember if I slept that night, but I do remember getting up the next morning to do the only thing I knew how to do when things around you are collapsing—chores. I got on my hands and knees and washed the tile floor in the large kitchen, dining area, and laundry room, scrubbing the stained grout with a scrub brush until it looked white again, tears falling into and mixing with the dirty water. After hours of scrubbing, I baked a pound cake, heavy with eggs, sugar, and butter. Heavy cake for a heavy heart. While the cake was cooling on the counter and I was outside, the young Husky dog jumped up and ate a large chunk out of it. I threw the cake in the trash—tears upon tears. Chris got back from work, and we walked in the gardens, trying to process the news. I picked up peacock feathers—the female ones with subtle color and the male ones with the exquisite, jewel-toned eyes. I took them home and put them in a vase. I’ve been picking up feathers and making feather bouquets ever since.
Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tunes without the words
and never stops at all. –Emily Dickinson
This last sapphire blue-tipped feather is one I picked up at the bridal luncheon when our oldest daughter Emily got married in the fall of 2015. It was from one of the peacocks that roamed the acreage surrounding the mansion where the luncheon celebrating love and marriage was held. Hope never stops at all.