Next to last day of summer break, and I feel it rushing away like a creek flowing downhill. Sarah, Jeff, Suz, Brent, Rachel, and Jonathan have all gone canoeing, Chip is working, Hank is working, and I am baking birthday cakes and trying to get the house into some autumnal form. My sister called to say she has a treeful of ripe peaches, and wonders if I want to make jam. Yes, I do. Am I going to have time? I doubt it.
Two more days. This is where, if I am not careful, panic sets in. My house is a wreck, I have 14 people coming for lunch tomorrow, and I have to put cream cheese icing on a cake and then find room to refrigerate it. I do not know if I have lemon curd, but if I don’t, I’m gonna have to make it, and that’s not a job for sissies. The guest bed is on the floor because of an ill-timed jump, and the Boy has got to leave work in time to fix it. Beans need picking again, there’s a load of laundry to fold, and my jewelry-making equipment is spread all over the table where I usually fold it. The other table is in our little guest room, where Suzanne’s clothing covers every surface. Chip’s room is such a disaster, I can’t even open the door without hysterical junk blindness.
I am not going to mention the stack of magazines by my desk, the Venetian mask on my worktable that needs a bell sewn back on, the moving boxes on the living room sofa, the tent in the dining room, the volleyball net on the back porch, or the pile of shoes at the foot of the front stairs.
Every summer, my brain tells me that we’re going to have a house that’s worthy of a Southern Living photo shoot. And every summer, that completely fails to happen. Apparently, I can’t be taught. We’ve lived here too long, I have too many books, too many hobbies, and too few hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the vacation.
I’ve decided, here on Day Two, that I don’t care. I have been sitting in the swing reading a magazine and enjoying the breeze, while the younger set gets ready for a baseball game that may or may not get rained out. My Beloved and I will join them when he gets home from work.
A few minutes ago, a sparrow swooped in and landed on the swing’s chain. He hung there, panting and terrified, looking around him with wild eyes. If I had to guess, I’d say he just had a near miss with one of the feral cats. I watched him for a long time, as he gradually calmed down and finally flew away. I felt blessed – such a wild, beautiful thing, right by my hand. If I’d been cleaning the living room, I’d have missed him. A bird on the swing is worth . . . I don’t know, but a lot more than a tidy living room. It’s not much of a rationale, but it’s the only one I’ve got, and I’m sticking with it.