SpeakEasy

Spring: a Time of Restoration

By MARY JANE HURLEY BRANT | Mar 15, 2017

Everyone loves spring, the beautiful season that lifts our spirits and seduces our senses with its exquisite colors, transporting fragrances and those wonderful bird whistles and chirps that make everyone feel good. But spring is also a time of restoration, and one thing which needed restoring at our house was our statue of St. Francis of Assisi.

Over the years, St. Francis has lived in many homes, in both our front and rear yards. He’s lived on our decks, in our gardens, standing on boulders and living in the woods. Like the Beach Boys, St. Francis never made it to Surf City, but he “got around,” at least he did for many years until a particularly bad winter caused him to fall face forward when the soil under his sandaled feet turned to mud. Lying face down in the mud is certainly not the best posture for a dignified Italian saint.

It was an old friend who first noticed. In her comedic Irish brogue she chuckled, “Well, I suppose even St. Francis needs a nap now and then.”

Horrified, I ran outside to roll him over. That’s when I noticed that this “made of 100 percent concrete” saint had broken into two large pieces. Oh, no! This was my favorite garden piece that the children gave to me for a memorable Mother’s Day so many years ago.

Right then I asked my husband if he could repair the statue. Could he buy some gorilla glue that would put the statue back together again? And, if the glue failed, maybe duct tape? Or soldering? Or how about caulk? Nothing worked, nothing. So what’s a girl to do? I placed the saint’s top half next to the bottom half and prayed to be enlightened.

For many springs St. Francis remained a sad and broken sight. “Could he ever be put back together again?” I asked my husband spring after spring. Yes, I am a board certified relentless wife with a “honey-do-list.”

“I’ve tried everything, Mary Jane; I think you might need a replacement.”

“For you or the statue?” I grinned. “Only kidding,” and gently shoved him. “I thought I’d try funny. Guys like that, right?”

“Really, Mare, I’ve tried everything.”

Now I’ve gone from relentless to pouting like Eeyore in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

Then the spring of 2016 arrived. Trees needed trimming, flower beds needed mulching and an old stone wall needed restoration. I gave up asking about St. Francis and decided – for once in my life – to “let something go.”

The landscape guys worked all day moving soil and spreading it, trimming and hauling the shrubbery and trees and mending the wall. When the job was complete, I walked outside to check on the workers’ labors. As I approached the garden I realized that all their faces wore traces of the dirt along with charming, mischievous grins. That’s when the boss stepped aside to reveal old St. Francis, who now stood erect and in one solid piece. He was also whitewashed to his original glory! He was gorgeous.

I wiped away a tear as I ran my hand over my favorite saint’s bald head, realizing he was permanently attached to his bottom half. (I guess you all know by now that the statue was more than just a piece of concrete to me.)

While I suspected the landscaper had used some professional outdoor construction adhesive, I asked him anyway how did he do it? He smiled, winked and pointed his finger skyward. Everyone laughed, especially me.

So this spring when you hear the cry of the gulls and smell the ocean breezes, think about what needs restoration in your yard and maybe even in your life, too.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant is a psychotherapist who resides in Newtown Square, Pa. She and her family have vacationed on LBI since the late 1960s.

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