The Sound of a Lawnmower, Not Too Close

(The vase Kate gave me, full of summer flowers. This is my favorite vase ever.)

I love the mixed bag the seasons bring sometimes. Even a jumble can be beautiful.

Lately here in WNC it’s hot, but with cool mornings and evenings. The butterflies are here to coincide with the flowering of the well-named butterfly bushes. I saw the first hummingbirds of the year about two weeks ago, and the first hummingbird moths this week.

This week has also brought the year’s first tiger swallowtails. My blueberry bushes have put forth their meager crop (maybe a single bowlful all year), and my tomato plant holds (so far) a single huge fruit of a rich and shiny yellow-green.

The blue jays have called their rusty-hinge call in the back yard all day.

I had summer planned out pretty well, but summer’s such a complex operation when you’re a working student with three months out of the year to take absolutely everything off the back burner and try to get done what you can.

So as summer’s half over, it seems like a good time to talk about my summer so far.

I had my work plans totally in a row, only to see everything rearrange itself.

Fancy new tech client is experiencing “a bit of a lull,” which is no one’s fault but the instability of freelancing is getting old lately. My wonderful internship has been put on hold for more than a month so far, and I wonder if I’ll be able to complete it before school starts back. My main web content client is in Europe for the summer, and more power to him, but this means that more web work and my latest payment from him are both in a holding pattern. There’s no bad blood — ordinarily I don’t let late-paying clients slide, but this is a special situation and he probably had the trip planned for months.

So I’ve been on involuntary writing leave. I applied to work at my local yarn shop. I’m a little tired of the pitfalls of freelancing this summer.

I thought about pitching this and that, but in the end I just let the summer take over. I’ve been working in the garden, visiting sick neighbors and looking after the ailing Geniune, who had spinal surgery last weekend (herniated discs, doing fine but in a lot of pain). I’ve discovered AMC’s excellent (so far) original series Breaking Bad (might have more to say about that later). I’ve been catching up on blogging, guestblogging for my Colombian documentary filmmaker guys, dining out with friends…

But even some of my friendships have not gone according to plan, as the overworked Rowan is working an internship and a job waiting tables (on top of co-producing this year’s Laugh Your Asheville Off festival, which is now THREE DAYS LONG and the largest comedy festival in the Southeast). Heather was off in Bolivia for two months and is now home but back to work nannying, and no doubt still settling back into life in WNC.

Ah, I guess every summer can’t be like last summer. They really are different every year for me, summers, and this one is showing me how pitiful the strength of human planning really is. Even my poor new housemate, who has been here so brief a time I have not yet mentioned her in the blog, found herself stranded in Carrboro over the weekend with a busted radiator ($700). She’s unable to have her car looked at until Monday, unable to pay her half of the utilities until she gets home, unsure of what to do. I’d come get her, but we’d only have to drive back to pick up her car.

So I guess this is the summer when everything went wrong, but everything was OK anyway. I’ve still had lovely times with other friends, cooked TONS of homecooked healthy food,  and still look forward to this year’s river trip and a WEEK on Tybee Island next month — my first real go-somewhere vacation in years.

The garden is beautiful and I’ve had time to look after it again, weed it, water it, put in new plants like my first-ever dahlias (red) and gladioli (pink).

When my housemate Julie came to see the house, she was clearly utterly enchanted with the garden in a way that lets you borrow another’s eyes and see again for yourself the beauty you’d forgotten, all the more nourishing as you realize it is the result of your own hard work and skill. And I have worked very hard.

I do love a garden. It’s the place where so much of what I love comes together — the natural world, the natural world as befriended by the human, the fight against entropy and chaos, a place to sit on a porch on a warm summer day when the sound of a distant lawnmower is to your ears what the taste of chocolate is to your tongue. Reassuring and wonderful, something to get lost in.

I dearly love the sounds of summer. Birdsong and mowers and the occasional scattered crescendo of shouts from young throats that reaches me on the winds that blow over the neighborhood pool a block away. To me the ultimate sound of summer, one that makes me sink into feelings of sun and heat and white clouds motionless in bright blue skies, is a lawnmower, not too close.

Summer is totally here. Afternoons at 12 Bones, evenings on the porch, cool mornings at the computer doing what I am doing now, writing and reaching out into the world in this way that I love so much.

Next month it will all begin again (and I sighed as I typed that): school, grades, exams. Studying, up late, up early. But summer always comes again, literally and figuratively. Again and again and again and again.

One response to “The Sound of a Lawnmower, Not Too Close

  1. It sounds like you’re doing a really good job of enjoying a summer that is not what you expected it to be, so good for you! That can be a hard adjustment. Roll with it, right? Happy summer, beautiful garden.

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