I sit drinking coffee on the landing outside my kitchen. Orange-breasted robins perch in a bush, daintily breakfasting on scarlet berries. Finches twitter, hummingbirds click, doves coo and cedar waxwings whistle. The #48 bus rumbles up 24th Street and children's playground screams filter from nearby St. Paul's school.

As the neighborhood sounds quicken, I am conscious of deeper quiet settling within myself.

Hammers pound, power saws whine, cars strain up the Dolores Street hill, TV cadences drone, windchimes tinkle and my neighbor's cat meows, demanding her daily pet. I prop slippered feet on the white railing and reach morning-stiff fingers down to stroke her grey-striped head. Steam from my blue hard-hatted-woman coffee mug disappears into vestiges of fog. I carefully position my chair so I can see both calla lily and fern tree.

In my sublet apartment's backyard jungle of giant pink impatiens, shining ivy and lush ferns stands a single white calla lily. Morning dew often glistens at the edge of its open mouth; yellow tongue seemingly poised to lick it dry. I suspect Diego Rivera's paintings have something to do with my response to this flower's voluptuous grace.

The fern tree next door first attracted my attention because of five fat brown knobs crowning a single layer of lime-green branches at the top. After two exceptionally windy days, the knobs unfurled into five branches reaching high like circle dancers, curled heads facing in, backs arched out, a line of green fists held tight to their sides. Weeks of early spring sun have coaxed fronds free, so now green arms stretch luxuriantly toward their companions as if eager to hold hands in the dance.

Watching the juxtaposition of a calla lily's sensual splendor and a fern tree's expanding energy have unloosed in me a willingness to live more passionately, change more trustingly and attend more mindfully.

Strange how a morning cup of coffee can affect one's life. And decaf at that!

©1998 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

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