Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The breeze blew through her light grey hair as she moved the broom's head back and forth over the pavement. Right, left, moving pine needles and the occasional leaf out of her concrete path. She pauses a moment, looking high into the pine trees and laughs. She wonders if she would have planted them 10 feet from the path, how much sweeping she could have saved over the last thirty years. Still, the shade is a blessing during the late summer days.

She goes back to her sweeping, something she has done in the early morning, most mornings, now more out of habit than necessity. People rarely visit her anymore, but she loves to see a clean sidewalk. If you go to her tool shed, you will see three broom handles, remnants from the three other brooms she has owned over the last ten years. She had her son saw off the broom head, thinking that the handle was still useful, but in all of these years, she has used the handles but a few times. Still, to have a smooth-handled stick seems so useful.

She sighs and continues her sweeping, right, left, right left, expertly moving the pine needles out of the way. Sweeping seems to comfort her; sweeping is her medicine, her exercise, her habit.

She pauses and places a hand on the small of her back, as if she were straightening herself up, but arthritis seems to have fused her spine into place.

When she looks at the path, she sometimes remembers people in her life, people who have died. When she was a young girl, she was afraid of her parents dying. She would think about it, wondering if she could stand it, wondering what it would be like. That's when she was a little girl. She soon forgot about fearing death, that is, until her grandparents died, when they were very, very old.

Sweep the path, right, left, a rhythmic pattern that reminds her of her grandmother, sweeping a similar path years before. Her grandmother, she just remembers, loved to sweep. The old woman laughs as she finally figures out that her grandmother swept nearly every day, and when she was a little girl, she thought it was a waste of energy.

Sweep right, sweep left, but don't sweep the memories away.


Monica said...

Something romantic about a freshly swept sidewalk...a welcome air of anticipation and hope.

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

very nice...

kathi said...

Awww, darlin', this touches on something everyone can relate to. Well done.

RWA said...

Wow. That hits close to home.

When I was little, my grandfather loved to just sit outside in his chair and enjoy the weather, the breeze and so on.

I never understood that, but now that I'm older (a lot older), I do. I just wish I had appreciated it when he was alive.

Leesa said...

monica: well-put. I do think sweeping is special, romantic.

bossy: thanks, sweetie, and congrats on winning Battle of the Blogs. You are the bees' knees.

kathi: thanks, sweetie. I have felt a little beaten, old, in the last few weeks, so this was my way of expressing myself.

rwa: I love sitting in a rocking chair, breaze nuzzling me, watching birds, squirels, whatever happens to cross my line-of-sight.

LarryLilly said...

My first wife, from Boston, used to sweep the walks where we lived. It was her obsessive/compulsive habit. I would ask her where did you get it from, and she said her grandmother.

Living in Oklahoma for 25 years, where "the wind comes sweeping down the plain", it was useless to sweep outdoors. You could never get passed the first foot, what you swept away was replaced by what was directly behind you. But she tried anyway.

This proves parents cause mental illness in their children LOL.

Leesa, living in the south, where the wind is so still that you could count mosquitoes by seeing them in flight, sweeping could be seen as a cathartic thing. On the plains, nope, ain't going to happen, well, Texas south of Wichita Falls and east of a line from Del Rio to Childress aren't the plains, so people in Austin and Dallas can sweep, but they have other real issues to deal with. Being born in Texas paramount to them LOL.

~Deb said...

We take on the habits of our mothers, grandmothers, etc... Beautifully written!

Leesa said...

larry: there is something soothing about a gentle breeze in the heat of the day that is nearly undescribable.

~deb: yeah, and sometimes we don't even know it.