My friend Dave ambled around the side of the house and into my backyard today as I was working. Not expecting anyone to visit and being focused on my work, I jumped out of my skin. He laughed and then we talked about calves and gardening while his red dog rolled happily around on my newly-cut lawn.
“My garden’s not doing anything,” he told me. “It’s too dry.” I’ve heard similar complaints from other friends and neighbours. The squash and zucchini seeds that I sowed are really slow to sprout.
“Our garden isn’t growing very well, either,” I reassured Dave.
He shrugged and said, “I don’t care if I don’t have a garden this year. There’s always next year.”
“Is there?” I replied without even thinking.
Dave stopped and looked at me hard, and so I said, “Well we don’t know for sure, do we, if we’ll have a next year?” Dave looked skeptical. I was only being realistic but I could tell that this was a bit of a downer for Dave. I’m nice but I can be a bit of a downer sometimes.
It’s true that I never assume anymore that there’s a next year or a next month. I’m usually pretty sure there’s a next day but, one day, I’ll be wrong. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy to spend this June in my yard and in Mexico.
Seriously, I’ve never enjoyed yard work so much. When I was teaching and then going to school for a year, yard work was always a tedious task, a job that had to be rushed through and fit into an already hectic schedule. Today as I worked, I breathed in deeply the lilac-scented air and listened to the sweet birdsongs as my feathered friends waited for me to go back into the house so that they could visit the feeder. This afternoon, I’m sweaty and happy, and I’m particularly grateful to be alive.
One reason for this thankfulness is that I’m getting older. I turned 52 in May while the list of people I know who never got to live for 52 years grows longer with each passing year. Out of respect for them, I try not to complain about getting older. I know it sounds trite but it’s true: we are fortunate to grow old.
Another reason for my contentedness is that I’m not working as a teacher right now. That’s not to say that there isn’t joy to be found within school walls this time of year. It’s just that you have to look much harder for it. Outside those walls and those constricting responsibilities, the world is buzzing with life and the sun is shining its longest days. The air is warm and the breeze is soft, and I’m alive to experience it all. Really, when you’re solidly middle-aged and less-employed, life is beautiful.
There isn’t always a next year. I hope there is because this right here is the best part of my life and I would like it to continue. But I also realize how lucky I’ve been to live this life up until now and if there isn’t a next year, today that thought just makes me more grateful for this one.
Thanks for reading. Have a very happy rest of your week!
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind…