We have an apple cart; a very beautiful, solid apple cart. Maybe it's maple, maybe it's oak. An apple cart a collector would love. An apple cart many people would love to have, but most will not. An apple cart people dream about. It's our apple cart and we built it from scratch.
It took help from family and friends, and taking advantage of materials that came our way- both found and given. And when we had what we needed, we set our hands to build the best one we could. After many a splinter, bent nail and splashes of paint we got it into some reasonably good shape and ready to carry a load.
We've filled our cart with tremendous bounty of all types and where ever we go we try to share that bounty and be thankful for it. What we carry is live and thriving. It has a clean scent and a crisp sound like laundry on a windy line. It has substance and heft - like a sun-warmed river rock. It's many things in many ways and has many meanings. It's rich in spirit, in life and in love.
It can get heavy and it overflows sometimes, but we try to remember that most people don't even have a cart, let alone a full one. We try to always be happy with our cart and what we put in it. Generally we do ok with that.
We try to remember to do regular upkeep on our cart. Occasionally we oil the wheels, and put some paint on the sides. We leave the handgrips untouched, they are worn, woody, and smooth. But they are warm to the touch and have a sense of trust and ease of being held.
Sometimes we forget to do the maintenance. When we're running with a load, and sharing and giving, and filling and enjoying, sometimes we just forget. But we trust the hard work that went into building it, so we're confident it's still solid. Occasionally we give it a hard knock, but so far it just gives a sharp crack when you rap it with your knuckles - not a soft thump. Like a fresh, ripe apple.
There is another little thing about our apple cart though. Our apple cart's on rails. Thin train track rails. Smooth rails. Strong rails. But it's very hard to keep the cart on these rails all the time. We do a pretty good job of it, even in inclement weather, or up hill, or down hill. We focus together and keep it going. One person often guides while the other pushes, and then we switch places. But it really really takes both of us to keep it on the rails. Sometimes we feel we could use help - but there are only two handles and it's hard to have more feet pushing forward.
You might ask why we put it on rails, when we could have it on stable ground. The answer is only that our path is on these rails and the stops to our destination are on these rails. Any other path and we would be who we are, nor would we be as fulfilled with life as we are. It's just like that. For us, these rails are our rails.
And from time to time, our cart goes off the rails and the front wheel gets mired and stuck. It just happens. It happens to everyone in any circumstance of course, and it happens to us too. Contents in the cart shift dangerously, things tip precariously, and more contents in the cart fall off than usual. Sometimes it tips over completely and everything is dumped out. Sometimes it's raining and everything gets muddy - the earth clinging in an attempt to reclaim what's rightfully hers.
And in our case, because we are on our own rails, most of the time there is no one around to see it or help. We're never sure if we should call out for help, and so we don't. Maybe it's the pride we've put into building the cart, I am not sure. And it doesn't matter really, that's the way we are.
So, after we make sure no bones are broken, we shake ourselves off, right the cart, and put everything and everyone back in. We then look around, find a branch to lever our cart back onto the rails and push forward. It can take 5 minutes, it can take 5 days. It has never yet taken 5 weeks. Let's hope it never does, I feel deeply for people who take even longer, and some never get back on - for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they didn't have help. Maybe their foundation was not strong enough. Maybe they didn't have the strength. Maybe others wouldn't let them.
We work so hard to keep our cart on the rails. And it's completely worth it. The extra effort, the tired arms, legs and backs. It's worth it and we're glad we have a full cart and rails on which travel.
I do worry that we will get tired. I do worry that we will slip off and need some help, but we will be to far for that help to arrive. I do worry that we are too far from help now. Right now it is just a worry, but we see glimpses of it from time to time.
Although Owen was only sick for 36 hours, and the clinic visit only took a couple hours this time, there was something that really struck me. It was Heather, scrambling to check her email and put out a fire at work. It was the first time she had been able to work at all that day, and she had about 15 minutes in between Kyle going down for a nap, getting Owen down, and trying to get a shower, eat something, clean up and get ready for the next round of Sick Toddler.
I could see the stress and anxiety. Our babysitter was on vacation, I am flat out on work and we have twin three year olds. Work wouldn't wait, but neither would Owen. Of course there's not even a choice there - Owen comes first. But I could see the strain. The apple cart had slipped off and took a bounce. We caught it and got it back on the rails, but in that brief moment it made me worry about a blind trussel that could be around the corner.
It's a beautiful, full apple cart, I treasure it and everything in it more than anything else and I want to make sure it's safe for my family.