It was just Fourth of July, wasn’t it? That’s what I tell myself — even though tomorrow is obviously August and my new kitchen is almost done and my new gigantic garden plots are well on their way to being ready for fall planting. What’s obvious is that everyday life has been everywhere but here.
Yet — before July 2011 is all used up — I’ll mark these few words in the sand. Because I wish to remember how lovely this fifty-fifth summer of life has been. I want to remember the way I wake up each morning with boundless energy and excitement, the way I jump into work clothes then rush toward the utility room with a parade of hungry canines in my wake. And with dogs fed, how I down a quick cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal while checking the latest scorching weather forecast before hurrying outside to find shovel and wagon before the day grows hotter than any Oklahoma summer has a right to be.
It has felt good to be outside, especially in the soft morning light. As I’ve worked, neighbors have called out greetings as they pass by jogging or walking — with or without a dog. Some offer encouraging words. Surely a few think I’m crazy to be putting in new garden beds — measuring one-fourth the size of our front lawn — in the midst of severe drought conditions. And if so, who could argue with their logic?
I confess to feeling foolish at times, as sweat drips down my face to mix with dirt, wondering if this is how Noah felt when building his Ark with no rain clouds in sight. But, foolish or not, I dig until I can dig no more. Three hours. Sometimes five, if the day is overcast — or if I’m lucky to land in a shadier part of the garden.
Gardening is an act of faith, as much as going to church, I suppose. Though sometimes it’s less. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a wishing well when — down on dirty knees in the hard-baked soil — my mind wanders to my writing and this blog — and to thoughts of how I’m allowing both to wither on the vine without attention — only to console myself in my next thought that I’ll write later — in the comfort of an air-conditioned afternoon. But then I don’t. Or how — usually on Mondays, when I hear church bells ringing nearby, I tell myself I’ll find a good church soon — one interested in teaching a life in holiness — and that I’ll go next Sunday. Yes I will. But then I don’t.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we actually did all those things we tell ourselves we’ll do? Other times I wonder what would become of us if we didn’t tell these things to ourselves? Perhaps we couldn’t live in peace without our daily ration of feel-good, well-wishes. Can you imagine living a life without hope — of a better day or a better you?
All I know is that July will soon be over and it feels good to have ended it with a few written words — to know I’ve made good on at least one of my well-wishes in the garden. Still. I can’t walk away from July without closing my eyes and throwing in two more cents: If wishes were negotiable, I’d be willing to trade my little writing feel-good away for a good amount of rain. Yes I would.
Something less than Noah’s would be great.
Sounds like an idyllic summer you’ve gone through… tasting hard earned fruits of labor. I’m glad you’re not only reaping the results of your work, but have harvested insights from it too. “Gardening is an act of faith”… of course, and we’re reminded too that we may labor: plant, water, fertilize, and dig out weeds, but it’s not up to us to bring about growth.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, Janell!
In spite of triple digit temperatures, and maybe somewhat because of them, this summer is shaping unforgettable memories. And the garden has often become refuge from all the banging and “gnashing of teeth” as contractors work to make it operable.
When I was writing this post, I kept thinking of a “recipe” for “the good life,” that I ran across in the pages of Cook’s Illustrated several years ago:
“…hard physical labor in the morning followed by a long, lovingly prepared lunch,
and then an afternoon of intellectual and musical pursuits…” .
This pretty much sums up everyday life at the moment — but for that lunch preparation, which without a kitchen, has been quickly prepared sandwiches. Somehow though, even my simple sandwiches taste lovely; perhaps I’m so hungry from all the gardening work, anything would taste good!
Janell, I relate to this post so very much. Sounds like my life.
Two years ago doing all you are doing now. Now all I transplanted is growing – some better then others. I am out at dawn – the only time I can survive this heat – watering, weeding, filling bird feeders and cleaning my woods path from branches.
I understand about church and the meals. Even more difficult when their is one in the cottage.
Busy with son home from Thailand, little granddaughter’s with me and just
plain working and have been lax on reading….
Thanks, Ernestine, for stopping in — especially when so much good is going on in your own life with visits from your son and granddaughter. Words receive in this blog offer such encouragement — life would definitely be less rich without the on-line community visits here and there….
Heating up the kitchen with summertime meal preparation is something I don’t do as much as when the kids were all home — even with a kitchen, we tend to go out or eat something quick that can be cooked on stove-tops — usually pasta — or when I’m being really good, I’ll prepare a meal-in-one salad, like the Brown Derby’s Cobb Salad.
But we do tend to appreciate more of what we must do without for a time — so my husband and I’ve begun to put our heads together to decide what will be the first meal to come out of our new kitchen. We even kicked around the possibilities at last weekend’s Movable Feast, with some of the kids throwing their own suggestions in the hat. Nothing’s been decided on but the amount of speculation and conversation the topic inspired proved how hungry we all are for the taste of our own home-cooking. I bet your son knows exactly what I mean.
Enjoy your visits with family. I’m looking forward to opening my own kitchen up soon to cook for family too — somehow food tastes better when shared with those we love…
Ah, that last line. Food does taste better when shared with those we love, and getting past the resistance to eating alone has been one of my July chores. It took ten days – maybe one or two more – for me to have that first discussion with myself: the one that went, “Linda, you cannot live on yogurt, fruit and takeout for the rest of your life. Cook a danged dinner.” So I did, and cried all the way through the eating of it. The next wasn’t so bad and the next easier, so now I have meatloaf in the freezer and gumbo in the refrigerator. Ah…….
I don’t know much about gardening, but I know a little about farming, and I know that you left out something very important here – the need to let the land (and our spirits?) lie fallow from time to time. As you’ve noticed, it’s been two weeks or more since my last post. I didn’t even fuss about it. To be frank, I didn’t care. It wasn’t a time to worry myself producing for others, it was a time to lie fallow, to let things settle and rest.
But now I have a new post up, and feel like I’ve been let out of jail. It’s the second month now, and I can feel myself coming back to life.
I hope upon hope you got some of the rain that was in OK the past day or so. I didn’t check the radar carefully enough to know exactly where it was, but it was clearly real rain, not one of those piddly little showers that only makes the experience of drought worse by comparison.
The rain will come, and life goes on – and I can’t wait to hear what your first meal is!
It was good to read your words today — here and there, at The Task at Hand. Also good to know we’re both cooking again — the first meal out of our kitchen was one of my favorite pasta dishes that cooks up quick; Being so long away from the stove, I feared I’d lost some cooking skills — which, of course, I have. But you know what? It tasted good anyway, in the way only home-cooking can.
I also confess to connecting with your words on lying fallow; Lord knows it’s been a tough writing year for me for reasons I cannot share, since to do so may cause pain to another. So I do what I can: I keep busy; grieve; and write as I can.
Take good care of yourself. You remain in my thoughts and prayers.
I smiled at your mention of losing cooking skills. I really was astonished, when I began trying to put together my current post, to find that I’d lost some writing skills.
I don’t mean “inspiration”, or “creativity”, or any of that sort-of fleecy stuff. I mean the building blocks: spelling, punctuation, grammar. Honest to goodness. If I made one trip to google I made a hundred. I couldn’t spell “exuberant” -does it have an “h”, or not? What was that rule about semi-colons? I couldn’t remember. Is it “lay” or “lie”? Not a clue.
It was just astonishing to me, and then funny. I’d said here and there that after Mom’s death it was as though my mind had been wiped clean. I just didn’t know it was so complete!
Even worse, my ability to make connections among things seemed to have short-circuited. Finally, yesterday, I was reading a blog about pattipan squash (is that one “t”, or two?!) and remembered that its shape comes from “patapan” – the sound of the drum in the old French carol.
In short, I’m ready to argue both sides of the case – for lying fallow and letting the synapses renew themselves, and for “working the earth”, keeping at it just so we don’t lose those skills!
It’s been a most interesting experience, I’ll say that.
Yes. I confess to losing writing skill as well. I’ve experienced some of what you describe, but mine is more a type of writer’s block — one that doesn’t come from a lack of material since everyday life provides plenty of good stories — but more from a loss in the desire to tell them.
Who can say when this feeling will pass? I only know I sense wisdom in both sides of your teeter-totter equation: Lying fallow. And working the soil. Perhaps I can find a new equilibrium by living and writing somewhere in the middle.
PS I had to google the correct spelling of equilibrium.
To take the route where you do stop to smell the flowers means that at some point you, or someone else, has taken the time to plant those self-same flowers.
Fallow time is vital, to allow the wells of the soul to fill up again.
Enjoy the summer and come afresh to the page in the cool of the autumn.
I like your words of invitation” “…come afresh to the page in the cool of autumn.” They remind of another invitation from a favorite Scripture (I think Matt 11:28), that begins with, “Come all you who are weary… and I will give you rest.”
I am weary. I pray tonight I’ll sleep and wake rested.
Hugs back to you.