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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Taking nothing for granted

Having planned to do a lot of writing this summer, I find that life (along with my general lack of organization) got in the way, as it tends to do. But I’m in good company: Eric T. Freyfogle, editor of The New Agrarianism, a collection of essays I’m currently enjoying, notes that “agrarians have typically been happier to live their lives than to write about them” (xviii). And while I’m hesitant to describe myself as agrarian, having been contentedly ensconced in one town or another for the last thirty-five years, the low-key pleasures of a localized and semi-outdoorsy life have become increasingly important as I move toward old age.

This has been an unexpectedly rough summer, emotionally. An old friend, a highly competent Renaissance man active in educational, environmental, and artistic circles, is fading away from Alzheimer’s; a longtime acquaintance, a woman about my age, is experiencing serious unspecified neurological problems; a troubled relative in her early fifties, after decades of erratic behavior, has recently been diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease, always fatal and always hideous. Part of my next few years will involve helping this individual die as peacefully as possible. My own good luck—being reasonably healthy, gainfully employed, and happily enmeshed in a web of relationships—seems more and more a kind of amazing grace.  All I can do in response, it seems, is to pay attention as much as possible.

In our immediate corner of the world, this has been a good week: the yard drainage project has been completed, creating not one but three new planting beds in the process (though the heat and dry weather have not yet revealed whether or not the basement will remain dry). Friends and acquaintances have offered plants to fill in some of the new spaces, so a friendship garden is being created. (Not that there aren’t already plants with stories in the existing beds—these daylilies                            
were acquired by my Bulgarian friend Milena in 2007, from a nursery owner who gave her far larger clumps than those offered to other purchasers that day. We suspect an infatuation with her accent.)
Other joys of the week include these:
  •  Meals in which nearly all the food was locally raised.  Sitting down to a meal in which the chicken, the potatoes, the green beans, the tomatoes, the blueberries, and the wheat for the cookies all originated within a twenty-minute drive of our dining room is a reminder of what a rich area the Mid-Ohio Valley truly is.  Now if only chocolate, coffee, and grapes for Chardonnay could be grown somewhere nearby, I could truly be a locavore. . .

  • The serendipitous combination of rose "Lady Elsie May" blooming with a nameless bicolor daylily that has accompanied me to three houses 

  • •Sightings of two of the Black Squirrels of North Parkersburg

  •  Chipmunks becoming regular visitors to our feeders, and (drum roll, please)

  • •The return of the goldfinches!  The ratibida, sunflowers, and silphium are blooming just in time.

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