I blinked and July was gone. Like a bad dream, that you’re still sort of living, but less intensely. My head buried deep in 90 degree days and steamy fan blowing nights. Tossing, turning, a sheet for a blanket, I wake up clammy. The weeds waited (they are so patient), though barely growing because of this drought. It’s been awhile since we’ve experienced a dry summer, and it makes me grateful for all of the good growing seasons I’ve lived through.
The mild winter made the critters multiply, and all of them survived. The drought has them eating what fruit managed to set in spite of the late frost. We had no peaches again and by the time the cherries, mulberries, and strawberries were ripe…well, let’s face it, they never had a chance. Birds and squirrels and chipmunks plucked them white and sour off the vine, hoping to find any bit of moisture they could. They ate all of the pears and apples too. But I am letting go, because I have no other choice. Nature shows us great patience and resilience. Especially when there are so many other things to worry about…
We are in a time of great transition here on the farmstead. I won’t bore you with all of the details -because they are SO boring. I even tried to boil it down to a few key words, but I got too bored. Not just bored but exhausted. Frankly my life has felt like Groundhog Day, except I don’t wake up every morning waiting to see a Groundhog, scheming to make my crush fall in love with me (that is the plot of that movie right? All I know is BILL MURRAY. And also, he seems so much more accepting of repetition. I aspire to his greatness). I wake up to mud more sheetrock, sand more walls, put on my mask and goggles and get covered in wallpaper dust (wallpaper dust is a thing. Any dust is a thing if you’re sanding it. Why are we sanding wallpaper? Yes, WHY ARE WE SANDING WALLPAPER?! Because the bank. That’s why). In between I make more soap, cut more soap, thousands of bars of soap in 20 lb. boxes shipping soap soap soap. Ignoring weeds. Toilets leak BECAUSE the plumber had to cut a hole in the ceiling -it’s a long story. And because it seemed we needed more to do, more to worry about, Eric and I are re-learning all of our songs as a duo. This doesn’t sound impressive. Trust me -IT IS. Are you impressed now? You should be. We are performing 5 people’s worth of parts -just the two of us. But don’t be that impressed. We have spent much of that time tearing our hair out. Crying until we… laugh? Wondering -why are we doing this? But at some point it starts to sound like real music again and then we feel like it must be true, practice makes…you sound like you don’t suck.
In the middle of it all, this stupid July, my brother wound up in the hospital. Having found himself at the wrong place (outside his apartment) at the wrong time (getting off his late shift managing a bar and restaurant). He was jumped by two guys, left bleeding on the sidewalk. All I can say is it hurts to think that this is how life is. We are lucky he’s alive. That no weapons were involved except for fists and feet. That there was no brain trauma, that he still has all his teeth, that his vision will return to normal, that his surgery went well. But in spite of all of the bright sides we can call upon, I’m not feeling so lucky these days. Every six months for the past five years some sort of intense trauma befalls my family. After a time it starts to wear you down. You get up every time, but it starts to take a little longer each time.
So forgive my absence. I’ve been struggling with how to put all of this into words, because frankly I haven’t felt much like saying anything. I know that all we can do with this life is to offer up beauty and inspiration, and be good to others. But sometimes life just feels so dang sad and so much of a burden to bear. And all of the silly tasks that we impose upon ourselves, and that others impose upon us, they start to feel like they don’t matter. And you begin to question…everything.
But I am still here. And grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones. We all have our burdens, our crazy self-or-life-imposed goals. We are all sanding wallpaper somewhere in our lives. The best we can do is not get too caught up in it. Step away from time to time. And remember to breathe.
PS Grateful to my Wemple cousins for cataloging and sharing these family photos of my paternal grandmother’s family.