We’re sleeping with the windows open now, crisp air coming in through the screens and complaints from my daughters that it’s too cool in the mornings going out.
I thought the outside construction and building and staining would be most loved in the summer. I sat under the new porch and worked while the girls swam and played. I spent mornings underneath the kitchen window, checking the cushions for frogs before I sat down. In the evening, after dinner, I’d find my way back outside while Chris cleaned up dinner.
But fall is here and outside is still my favorite; maybe fall is best for porches.
The new roof we built sits under the girls’ windows. They climbed out that first day it was up, excited to sit as people added roofing paper and shingles around them. In my head, I thought this might be a bad idea in a few years.
I hope they don’t make me regret my new porch.
I’ve started dragging a blanket outside after I wake up. Hot coffee and crickets to greet the morning.
My garden has begun browning, the tomatillos slowly sinking to the ground and tomatoes trying to eek out one last hoorah. I planted a fall garden for the first time ever: snow peas and bush beans. I’m only mildly committed to their growth. My freezers are full; my friends are tired of getting deliveries from me; I could not eat another cucumber if my life depended on it.
We are mostly still staying home and staying away. Chris goes to work. The girls go to school. I go downstairs to my office to write. We haven’t stepped foot in a restaurant since early March. I miss coffee shops for writing and people watching. I miss lunch with friends and stopping for Mexican food on the way home from camping trips.
I have never been more thankful for our camper, for the easy, safe way we can go without coming in contact with others.
We’re still taking the pandemic very serious. I can’t imagine future generations asking me what we did in 2020 and answering that it didn’t really impact our daily lives much. We are mourning and grieving and angry about so many things.
We have hammocks in the backyard for Sunday afternoon naps. We ended up with a pool this summer, and it has saved us many times. I have sun-kissed girls running around the yard barefoot. They are best friends one minute, mortal enemies the next.
It’s dark when I get up now. I tiptoe downstairs each morning even though the dogs stomp down behind me and if anyone was going to wake up, it’s not going to be because of my footsteps. I still tiptoe.
Sometimes Chris has to be at work at 5 AM, but there is still coffee waiting for me when I come into the kitchen. He makes it even though I say he doesn’t have to. I think at the end of my life, if you ask me how I knew Chris Graham loved me, the answer will be: coffee when he didn’t have to.
I drained the pool last weekend. I tried to funnel the water to the line of hostas I planted along the field, begging them to stay green and full just a little bit longer.
Our apple trees–dying since we moved here–have officially given up. In the coming weeks, we’ll cut them down and have apple wood for fires. I don’t know if I need to walk across the street to the cemetery and give my grandpa a heads up that we’re cutting down his apple trees. It feels courteous.
In the spring, my husband built a bird feeder with scrap wood from the garage. He’s lovingly filled it all season, excited to see birds enjoying the condo he designed for them. This isn’t an important story except to say we have a little squirrel friend who also enjoys the bird feeder. He’s very small. I bet he could fit in the palm of my hand. Chris despises him. The squirrel and my husband are at war.
I don’t make the squirrel leave when I see him snacking. I tell him he’s welcome to eat here.
I wonder, at the end of his life, if you ask Chris how he knew I loved him, the answer will be: she didn’t, remember that squirrel?
The fields behind our house had beans this year. I always forget what it’s time for until the crop starts growing. I like corn years better, it makes our backyard feel like a cocoon. But beans are okay, too, I guess. They’re drying out, turning yellow. Soon, the field will be empty, and we’ll see deer on the hills.
Someone asked me this summer if I’m still writing.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I am writing all the time. I am writing and gathering.
This summer, in my head, I’ve written about:
what my compost bin is teaching me
why you shouldn’t watch the news
the prisms we hung in the living room windows
how to get rid of “friends” on facebook you really don’t like
a story about the bees coming to the flowers I planted for them
peoples’ houses I go by each morning on my walk
the best roasted tomatillo salsa recipe in the world
anxiety and anger
what healing feels like
why bookshelves should be filled with books and not decor
‘Somebody Feed Phil’
a drama about the hummingbirds outside the kitchen door
And that was just last week.
Yes, I’m still writing.
For me, there are seasons for writing and there are seasons for preparing to write. I’ve been preparing to write for a while now.
Maybe I’ll be writing again soon.