A Season for Seeing Contrasts

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

I screwed up last night.

It was late. I was tired. Dark was coming.

Flying By Night novel

I’d spotted one of the flowers I’d forgotten to plant last weekend. It had fallen over into one of the azaleas and had been missed, so I decided to plant it rather quickly and I knew exactly where to plant it—right in front of Aislinn’s window. Now that I’ve cut down most of the shrubs, the flower garden there is starting to look rather nice. All I had left to do was chop out a few more bushes, put down straw or pine bark, and watch my handiwork blossom.

I’d gotten sidetracked into a grocery run yesterday so I had not yet picked up the straw. I left the girls doing homework and cleaning up after dinner while I ran out to plant that one last flower.

As I sank the hole diggers into earth, I hit something hard and I knew instantly that it was a root. So I moved over a bit and hit another root. I stepped back a little and the ground was softer. I sank the hole diggers into the ground two more times and then—uh-oh!—I knew it before the blade may contact.

It was just as hard as the root and there was no reason why anything should be buried there, and yet I knew exactly what it was. I’d hit an irrigation pipe. I saw the sudden spurt of water into the hole and the white PVC pipe. Then the water stopped but the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach didn’t. I couldn’t imagine why there’d be pipe in this location but the point was moot. I had a mess on my hands.

I’d already planned to call a sprinkler guy to come out and take a look at the entire sprinkler system, especially since, during the Home Depot Roof Fiasco of November 2005, roofers had against orders placed their dumpster on my front lawn and I’d only now discovered that they broke two sprinkler heads in several places. Given that I’ve been waiting six months for them to reimburse me for the damage to my ceilings that they’ve agreed to reimburse me for, I’m not holding my breath. That particular sprinkler repair job was one that had to be done sooner or later, but I was counting on a little bit later, hopefully after things let up at work later in the month.

For the next hour after my accidental attack of the sprinkler pipe, I kicked myself. It’s not like I don’t have enough work to do already. Why was I so terribly stressed over a simple repair? My blood pressure soared. I was upset and jittery and nervous. All over something that shouldn’t have been a big deal.

Then I realized something rather astonishing. Nobody was mad at me but me.

All the turmoil in my gut was unnecessary.

Of all the planting and digging and gardening I’ve done over the years, I’ve never broken a water pipe. I’ve encountered them a few times, yes, but never broken through one.

If this had happened when I was a teen or in my early 20s and living with my parents on the farm, my father would have ranted for weeks and reminded me to this day about it. If it had happened three years ago when my husband and I were still together, I would have gotten the silent treatment or the idiot look or an unkind word. In any case, he would’ve been mad or acted mad, and I would’ve been kicking myself and anxious and stressed.

But this time…no one else is mad at me. Yes, it’s an inconvenience and a little extra expense, but it’s fixable…without the stress, without tension. What was stressing me out was an old pattern, an old expectation of being yelled at. The memory was there at cell level, even if I didn’t immediately recognize the cause. Now that I can and can see the contrasts, I don’t have to carry it anymore.

It’s okay. And so am I.


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