It’s the final stretch of summer: August, the month in which boredom crescendos and humidity settles into the corners of my house, exposing odors that are decades old.
Last week we woke up to a bat in the corner of our bedroom. He’d been circling our sleeping heads until our cats woke us up chasing him. Now I wake up at night whenever the cats make a noise. My sleep is sweaty and fragmented. I crave coffee all day.
Also last week, I was officially hired to freelance on a marketing project. I’m pulsing with neediness to exceed expectations. The project outcome relies on research that has yet be conducted, which makes things dicey and unknown. I’m pacing, in my damp house, giving myself little pep talks and instruction.
I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been directing my energy at my kids and working and the return of bat. But lately, occasional lessons have poked through. I feel like I should sit down and write about them, but I’m self-conscious. My fingers have lost their ability to translate. My brain is sluggish and critical.
Several weeks ago we went blueberry picking. It was sunny and beautiful out, so I pulled my daughters off their summer drug of “Toddlers and Tiaras” and threw them into the Honda. With windows open, we drove to a berry farm near a lake. It’s called “Sandy Bottom Farm,” a name that conjures up gritty bathing suits and sunburned cheeks.
As we walked with buckets into the rows of blueberry bushes, I delighted in the summer scenery: blue skies, humming cicadas and every so often, a cool breeze calming our skin. We started the pulling at berries and dropping them into buckets, but despite the lazy day, I felt an urgent need to finish. I would grab one or two handfuls off one tree and then move on to find a better tree. Rather than stand quietly and pick, I kept wandering in search of a better bush.
Off in the distance I could hear other people yelling out things like, “Hey, guys, I found the best bush,” and I’d feel myself getting competitive and anxious — was there a better bush that I was missing? My youngest daughter ran off to investigate, unable to stick with one bush for more than three or four berries. I started to sweat. I swatted at bees, growing annoyed. I needed to find the best bush.
Then I came across my eldest daughter. She was still standing in the shade of her first bush, calmly picking it clean. She was practically humming. Her fingers were blue. Her bucket was full.
Okay, yes — the metaphor is obvious, but I give myself credit for noting it. I can’t keep flailing around, imagining better bushes. I need to relish this time, standing still and filling my bucket with what’s in front of me.
So with that: cheers to this last week of summer vacation — to lazy mornings, ice cream, good books, long naps, sunburned shoulders and sandy bottoms.