Those words, according to The Quotidian Mysteries author, Kathleen Norris, came from the mouth of the poet Dylan Thomas as he lay on his deathbed. Nuns with sons? Was this a dying poet’s last stab at cynicism or humor? Or was it, as Norris proffers, the aesthetic sensibility being “attuned to the sacramental possibility in all things?”
This supposition came to mind this morning on our morning school commute. For weeks now the kids and I have driven past a mocha colored double-wide trailer home planted amid an estate of dirt. There have been signs – tumbleweed removal, an unwound garden hose – that something is astir here. Yet it has remained a largely barren plot, devoid of possibilities to me. Until today. Today I notice on the property nearly invisible trees, staked and bound by twine, in slender black buckets. I think of the optimistic Dylan and wonder, “Trees? With long, leaf-laden branches freely stretching up to tickle a smile from the austere azure?”
On this thought alone my heart could suckle the milk of possibility for the rest of the day. But there is more. Not far down the road a commercial pick-up truck pulls out from another neighborhood. Almost immediately I recognize it as a testimony of the diversity found here on the fringes of the West Valley, where the White Tank Mountains keep the next haboob from blowing us all into East L.A. The truck has emerged from a neighborhood of mission-style homes nestled on resort-like estates. The tall palms here are not bound or staked. They nod like Arabian sheikhs appraising the water-fetching maidens at the local oasis.
The painted lettering on the truck’s rear window advertises the worker’s trade – Steve’s Wood Creations. Following and reading, I learn that Steve specializes in custom furniture and commissioned art. I wonder to myself how people these days afford “custom furniture and commissioned art.” The soft spot in my heart for craftsmen and artists pulses with thankfulness for Steve’s good fortune. But there is something else about this mystery craftsman, something that earns my admiration and adds to my hope quota. According to the window, he also offers woodworking classes. I wonder who takes his classes.
Maybe the people from the Dirt Estate.