Have you heard?
Do you know Anansi? I only learned of him as an adult and I am still learning. From my understanding, he is a part of the oral traditions in Ghana and his stories traveled throughout the diaspora due to the slave trade. According to legend, he is a mischievous god who took the form of a spider. Anansi is apparently also one who holds knowledge and may take the form of man at times. I also learned through listening to children's stories, that he loves to eat (a spider after my own heart!) The stories are so delightful and sometimes end with some version of "and that was that."
It's time to begin part II, but hold Anansi in your mind, would you?
The beginning before the beginning
Maybe three or four years now passed, the beginning before the beginning, Jennifer's beloved was lamenting to his cousin that the labor it took to mow the lawn was just too much. He was using a push mower and losing more than half a Saturday each weekend. (They had moved into a space, with quite a larger expanse of grass, compared to their previous dwelling.) The cousin passed on the name of a person who he assured could do the job and do it well. It was true, the person was just fine, but soon found himself too busy to maintain his business, so he sold his contact list to a guy...Let's call him Ed.
What does Ed know?
Ed was friendly and willing to take a new client on their side of town. Jennifer's beloved was so delighted to get back a few precious hours each weekend. Jennifer loved the coming home to a fresh cut lawn. It felt like a little bit of magic.
After the first or second visit, something clicked for Ed. He recognized this lawn. In fact, he had cut it ten or more years prior, according to him. He knew the original owners. They were lovely people. He also recalled that there was once a peach tree right in the center of the back yard. He remembered how he loved cutting the lawn and having access to an abundance of free peaches and other fruit.
For months and months, Ed rode his standing mower around that lawn...cutting the blades into manicured magnificence. He worked in a circle, spinning magic like a spider spins a web. But now, there were no more peaches, no more fruit to speak of at all, actually.
And that was that.
I have this true story to tell you, but I'm going to write this part in third person, because I think it works better that way. I like thinking of it as one of those tales that become a part of an ancient oral history.
Who knows where the beginning is but here is one beginning: One day, about two years ago, the sun was shining in a blue sky and there may have been a few fluffy clouds. Jennifer was walking toward home, with her dog Coal... her mind was wandering somewhere up in the clouds. There must have been clouds.
Well, not just yet... Jennifer was feeling untethered. Disconnected. Without deep roots. Grieved. Having lost two anchors (her uncle, then her grandmother) over 30 years ago, she wondered if grief was available to her. Why grieve now? Again? Still?
What does such aged grief look and feel like? Is it real? What comes of it or from it?
And where were they anyway - the anchors and the many family members lost since? Were they ancestors? Were they the kind she could speak with? Could she remember what they might say to guide her? Did they remember her? Could they? What attributes of their's could lead her to home? To roots?
For days on end Jennifer and Coal walked the same stretch of road, morning and evening. Sure as a promise.
Jennifer looked up and talked up...Through tears. Through questions. Through fragments of memories and stories. Through dark mornings with twinkling stars and sometimes moonlight so bright she could turn off the flashlight and still see. Through changing seasons...Walking, talking, wondering, wandering, asking, noticing... Something was happening. Something finally spoke back.