I was watering my freshly planted sunflower starts while a tractor two fields over methodically worked each row, the sturdy barn behind and rows of raspberries stretching in the acres beyond. I heard a sigh behind me. I turned to Darla who was sprawled out on her back, blonde hair fanned out over the grass in the front lawn.
“Ah, Mom- being out here on days like this makes me feel so inspired. Know what I mean?”
“I was just thinking the same thing.” I admitted. We had been talking a lot about inspiration and I smiled remembering my favorite part of her Mother's Day card to me: "My mom inspires me."
She jumped up. “I’m going to grab a journal. I have to write a poem or something right now while I’m thinking like this.”
I was laughing but mostly envious. I wished I could ignore the ground beef browning on the stove and the grubby toddler in front of me to grab a journal and follow.
Darla was back in a flash, returning to the place inspiration first hit and positioning herself exactly, as though her thoughts were in the small concentrated space above her blonde head. As I watched her tongue stick out while she focused, I remembered being not much older when I scaled up the inside wall of our barn to the stuffy loft, hiding in the corner with a tiny window overlooking the back field where my brothers rode dirt bikes. Notebook in hand, I wrote down trite observations that I now wish I kept.
Sunny days of my childhood were often spent trying to capture an illuminated moment. I remember teetering precariously in a hammock with an apple in one hand, journal and pen in the other, determined to get down on paper my thoughts in an inspired place, regardless of the swaying and the rope marks on the back of my legs. At night I often snuck onto the roof from my second story bedroom, waiting for creativity to hit under the stars.
A yell of “Mom! I need help!” pulled me out of my reverie and away from my sunflower watering. I helped Haley water her own flower and internally recounted my day. I had woken early that morning to snag a moment of inspiration, but was foiled by a son who woke up nearly as early. I had hoped to have quiet reflection during Haley’s nap but Everett managed to knock his front teeth loose at school and I brought my bloodied boy to the dentist during naps instead.
Now, my idyllic moment of watering sunflowers ushered me into saving the browning meat and adding sauce in time for dirt streaked faces to appear around my table, which naturally led to a round of baths and homework. Then again more food as snacks and bedtime arrived. Finally to tuck in weary, sun baked, spring fevered children.
And then I slowed. After prayers and before the laundry folding, I slowed. In the short moments after energy and clear thoughts but before crashing into bed, I read Darla’s poem that had resulted from her quiet moments in the lawn.
If I Were Bigger
By Darla Taylor
If I were a bit taller
I would have the clouds as my mattress
My quilt would be the sky
Fitted just for me
The tallest Redwood tree would be my pen
I’m writing with it now
The thickest oak tree
I could break like a twig
If I were bigger it would be exciting every day
At night I would cover myself with my quilt of sky
And fall asleep with my nightlight, the moon
I would sleep well
My day was over and I had believed my inspiration to be thwarted. Nothing ended up on paper and not much was sorted or reflected on. It was a day lacking rhythm or solace. I was a still a little irate that I always pick ground beef over sprawling in the grass in the evening.
But on this evening my inspiration didn’t come under the stars or at my quaint writing desk. It came in a sweet poem by my imaginative daughter and it erased my headache, almost enough to put something on paper. "Darla Jules inspires me."
My work is done here.
I'm going to bed.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...