the grass on the river dike is suddenly tall, up to my chest.  the false bamboo is wiggling through the dry silt on the river's edge.  the morning glory is twisting and twining it's way up up up the garden.  tractors chug along  waking up winter's mudpack.  it seems like it all happened in a flash overnight, while i wasn't looking.  i start to get that overwhelming feeling, like spring and summer all happens so fast, whizzes right by like the scenery from a car window.  i fear i need to soak it up harder this time and store it deep within me for the next long winter, the winter that comes on altogether too soon.  wearing shorts for the first time this year, walking through the tall grass, my legs feel the familiar sting of nettles, somehow comforting, like a pinch to wake you up from a long dark cold dream that wouldn't end.  the dogs are just wiggles in the grass, flickers of color hidden beneath the fronds, they run through the cut paths but can hardly be seen.  they cannot see out to where the valley opens up,  which makes them a little more nervous than usual, staying close to our feet so as not to get lost.  this is their first spring, ever.  you can tell it's overwhelming to them too.

my hair is long now, longer than it's ever been, long as that grass on the river's edge, almost to my elbows.  last time i talked to my dad, he reminded me:  it's been four years since mom passed, jessie, not three.  i guess i stopped keeping track, but my hair is a good measure.  the last time i really cut it, i cut it short... it was this time of year, about four years ago.  when your mom loses her hair, a woman's best accessory as kate describes it, you may find yourself wanting to lose your hair too, to take away the pain, to shake the vanity that we still somehow cling to until the very end.  and now, all i have is hair, long as i can grow it, my hair.  it's heavy, tangled, dirty, and hard to wash.  it's beautiful, and real, not as much ash-blond as my optimistic mother would describe it as the greyish brown of dry earth.  my dogs pull it, chew on the ends of my braids, and step on it, yanking from the roots.  james loves it, how it reminds him of the nurturing yet untamed hippie women of his childhood. that hair, it's mine, for better or worse: every cell of my being, every life experience is in there, every breath, every tear, for the last four years.  

this spring, i think it's time.  i think i'm ready for harvest.

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