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Watching the Oyster Shells

I live in Memphis, Tennessee. In the mornings I walk to the yoga studio. In class we address the channel of the Wolf River Harbor, the initial source of water for us Memphians. When we relax on our mats, we are trusting the land beneath us that is a sandbar, accreted from a wreck until it was firm enough to build our houses and the yoga studio. I walk home when I’m done and immerse myself in an old-fashioned cedar hot tub. Above my head, wind chimes made from oyster shells hang from a pergola. The shells tinkle in the wind. Sometimes the dog blunders up the hot tub steps. She sits, and watches me soak. The scent of wet cedar surrounds us.

I would not have this house in Memphis if my first marriage hadn’t died a sorrowful death. I would not have the tinkling oyster shells if my husband hand’t needed a place of rest after a tendon popped in his heart, requiring immediate open heart surgery. I wouldn’t have the pergola if the beating down Memphis sun hadn’t raised steam from the courtyard’s surface. I wouldn’t have the hot tub except for the creeping arthritis that has made one leg visibly shorter than the other. I wouldn’t have the dog if the three little Yorkies who were my heart for almost twenty years hadn’t all gone off to college.

This is not a Pollyanna, look-on-the-bright-side view of life. It is not “God does all things for a purpose” view—God did not give my husband a faulty mitral valve so I could find a bunch of damn oyster shells. Nor is this the dratted “cycle of life,” which mercilessly extracts death as the price for each new breath.

This is gratitude. Gratitude for my husband who healed my heart. Gratitude for the shucked-clean oyster shells. Gratitude for the leafy pergola, the new dog, the sandbar that is my home. This is love: me watching the shaking oyster shells, thinking: and it was good.

peace in creativity, Ellen

arthritis, cedar hot tub, God, gratitude, Memphis

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