Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I am up before the chickens. As a result, I allow myself a brief walk through the gardens, thinking peaceful thoughts, picking off random spent buds, enjoying the quiet of the pre-construction hours.


One thought that came to me is how easy it is to succumb to a mindset (good or bad): it happens without your realizing it. Take the mosquitoes: our remarkable invasion this year pushed me to thinking nasty thoughts about them every time I stepped outside. It was inevitable, I suppose. You can't ignore that ferocious buzz and bite. At the same time, I began to lose touch with my flowers. Their beauty didn't disappear, but it did not have the delightfully melodic impact on me as it does under less onerous conditions. There wasn't a Bach melody running through my head. There were curse words.

We all know that being around happy people makes us happy. But the opposite is true as well: if you're around negative events, people, situations -- they seep under your skin and if you're not paying attention, you become infected. You assume as normal something that shouldn't be normal at all. We read about this in the papers: the unleashing of your own inner devil as you listen to the political discourse. But forget about politics! Yesterday, as I was standing at the dance studio window, watching Snowdrop's ballet class, I picked up the comments of a grandma of another child. She was clearly there, with grandpa, visiting. Their son (the child's dad) was hovering in the background. The grandma kept throwing out comments that were mildly persnickety. Not about her own dancer, but about the others. If the teacher showed the kids a picture of a perfect ballet leap, the grandma would emit the tiniest smirk and say acerbically -- how many of them could possibly do that! Then as each child did attempted it, the grandma would release a "there, I told you so" snorty chuckle. In her back and forth with son and husband, I heard that constant small bite, the "you should haves," the fussy finding of fault. Missing was the joy in finding herself in this beautiful moment. The appreciation for all that is. And I want to remind myself, remind us all, that that kind of demonic impulse to bite festers in every one of us -- it's that inner devil, looking for a chance to escape, to keep company with other little satans out there.

I have a respite now with the bugs (though I know it's a matter of days before they come back: they're at the peripheries, waiting; peppermint and garlic don't last forever). And I have my kids and grandkids. And an Ed, who will always choose quiet over caustic remarks. I'm handed a reset: I see the beauty of a garden, of young faces around me, too, of Ed's strong yet gentle presence and I remember how important it is to sustain my own contribution to a peaceful mindset, to not let it waver, even at testy times.

(The Big Bed is at one of its more gorgeous moments and especially at this hour, when the sunlight is just touching the roof of the barn, the tops of trees.)


I eat a mini breakfast alone. I haven't the heart to drag Ed downstairs. He spent the whole day chopping down a tree and he has several more he wants to bring down.


And then I catch the bus to Chicago.

Normally, I like to overnight in the city when I come to spend time with Primrose, my youngest granddaughter, but this month, there just isn't the time for such luxury. Still, I never mind the trip: on the way there, I get to think about the joys of seeing my younger daughter and her girl again and on the way back, I have the good feeling of returning to a home I love.

So, a day in Chicago. Or, really, in one neighborhood of this big city. You know the streets by now, right?


(The quiet of the residential blocks of Wicker Park...)


And now finally, after a car ride, bus ride, El ride and lovely walk, I am with Primrose (who is just 3.5 months old and working hard on staying upright in a sitting position).


It's very warm outside, but Primrose has just returned from a family trip where it was even warmer and so we set out for a long-ish walk without trepidation. My daughter and I are up for a lunch at Bang Bang Pie and Biscuit. Eating a biscuit smothered in warm goat cheese with a poached egg and charred asparagus, kale and cherry tomatoes at the side just sounds so yummy, especially at an outdoor table, especially with strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert.


(Hey, can I join in on the fun??)


(Always, Primrose. Always.)


It's remarkable how much a little babe can grow in a short period of time. I last saw Primrose in June. And here she is now, legs stronger by the day, practicing stuff that was impossible then.


It's a beautiful set of hours for me. But I can't stay long. I have an evening bus to catch. One last hug and many kisses for the little girl and her mom...

(see you soon, okay??)


... and I'm off.

The sun is long gone by the time I pull into the farmette driveway. Ed is back from his Wednesday Night bike ride. With a good bit of excitement, he tells me that the corn stand in the neighboring town is up and selling local corn for the first time tonight. He bought six ears. I clean the corn, steam it briefly, pour a glass of rosé and smile at how lovely summertime can be.