The Roman city of Pompeii, suddenly decimated by the wrath of Mount Vesuvius, is, as you know, a perfectly preserved example of an Ancient Roman town. There to this day you will find uncracked eggs gathered in a bowl, a leashed dog curled in endless sleep, pots and pans left set to boil upon the fire--the precise and permanent picture of life as it was at a distinct moment in time.
This was exactly the way we found things here at home upon our return from San Francisco.
The truth is that I had done no preparation for our three month trip, hurling some clothes in a box to be shipped to our destination one or two days before leaving New York and that's about it. Upon our return, I was amazed to find the house exactly as we had left it, the perfect time capsule of our life back in May. A script from A Midsummer Night's Dream sat splayed on its spine; a Scrabble game in progress awaited a next move on the coffee table; a pitcher of pink peonies drooped forlornly on the mantle, the centerpiece from our almost forgotten Rhododendron Tea.
The Mary Garden outside, long neglected and left to nature, reminded me of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the green things embracing Our Lady so that we could hardly find her. Full grown melons we had never planted huddled beneath the hostas, their vines and yellow blooms crocheted in a chain stitch throughout the unruly bed. Tomatoes sprang up mysteriously, the evidence of a child's afternoon snack all those months ago.
It was only yesterday--believe it or not--that I entered the learning room in the cottage for the first time, surprised to find scrap paper, books, blocks--all left in their places since May. I reached for a garbage bag, tossing the useless papers indiscriminately, when my eye fell upon a bright yellow sheet covered in numbers. It was Agnes' scrap paper from last year's foray into Algebra. Words were written on one side that made me laugh out loud--the "doodling" of a student whose mind was evidently more on Shakespeare and A Midsummer Night's Dream (not to mention escape!) than anything else.
Here is her simple [she's only changed a few words from the original], yet amusing, parody of Nick Bottom's speech to the "Wall" from Pyramus and Thisbe, the play within a play:
O grim-look'd math! O math with print so black!
O math, which ever art when play is not!
O math, O math! alack, alack, alack,
I fear my mother's promise is forgot!
And thou, O door, O sweet, O lovely door,
That stand'st between the smaller house and mine!
Thou door, O door, O sweet and lovely door,
Show me thy pane, to blink through with mine eyne!
Thanks, courteous door:
Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see I?
No recess do I see.
O wicked door, through whom I see no bliss!
Cursed be thy wood for thus deceiving me!
I must admit to enjoying this visit to our lives as they were in May.
Still, I think it may be time for a bit of spring cleaning to bring us back into the present!
[This is the 500th Cottage Blessings post.]