Three days and some heavy rainfall bring bushy tomato plants, tiny peppers and tomatoes, and blossoms popping out everywhere.
I can’t believe it’s all changed this much since Saturday.
Petunias and moss roses spread and bloom over. I kneel at the side of my community garden bed, and deadhead the plants so more flowers can grow. The bursts of colors from those plants, the zinnia and nasturtium, lighten my sullen mood as I carefully part their leaves, pulling small weeds out here and there.
The sun cover is already getting so dense that fewer and fewer weeds are there every time I visit. Hardy basil sprouts are pushing fast out through the ground, trying to compete with the spreading tomato leaves for those precious shafts of sunlight.
I wipe the dirt from my hands, and look over at my two ecstatic dogs. Tethered together on the bench conveniently placed right next to our plot, they actually smile into the sun, panting out their curled-tongue approval of this lifestyle.
No worries here for them, they seem to say. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Save a few restless neighbors who come and go at all hours, the occasional squirrel, and that guy who hunts and keeps two howling beagles – they’re doing just fine, thank you very much.
My movement too, today, points out towards the sun. It’s June 25, and the summer solstice just passed, so the earth is as far-tilt towards the sun as it’s ever going to get. Sneaks up on you each year, it seems. This shift. Seems strange always that it coincides with the beginning of summer, rather than the climax of it, and on each day after, the planet tilts back. At tiny degrees for the next six months.
For us, a time for wandering. Going places and seeing things. Time to grow and thrive.
No watering needed today. One month in, the garden’s already looking overgrown. Lush and filling in like a good garden should.
So, I sit on the bench and place a call to the state unemployment office. Benefits delayed for no good reason. Administrative red tape, and a hold message. I take a deep breath, and feel lucky that this isn’t urgent yet. I’m good for a couple months, thanks to some frugal planning.
“High call volume … call again later … go online …”
Sigh. Again. I grow, just a little, with every small moment like this. Feel frustration, worry. Breathe. Find self-assurance and confidence again. Dial the pound sign one last time for today, get the same message, then hang up the phone.
A bonus, this temporary help. Yes? Yes. If you can ever pry it from their cold, phone-game playing fingers, that is.
Inching up, stretching. Growing.
With two hours to spare, I herd my two dogs back into the Jeep, and head for the beach.
25 minutes away = the Lake Erie shore.
The state park there has been a happy landing spot for me for almost three years, after rediscovering the love of it from my childhood trips. It’s open and free, it’s beautiful, and it’s a place I haven’t seen since last fall, when the pieces of my life seemed more comfortably in place. And each day was an easier celebration.
So, we go. Half a back-road trip, an impatient jump onto the freeway, and we are there. Snake crossing signs and boat launches, lagoons and great blue herons.
The dogs poke their wet noses out gaps in the Jeep windows. They breathe deeply the overgrown smell of vines and dirt and lake water that floats around this southeast corner of our state.
My two-year-old dog knows the place. He shivers with excitement, and scratches at the windows.
The puppy is here for the first time. He barks along with his brother and probably wonders what all the fuss is about.
I smile towards the high lake-line as it comes into view. Yes, there it is. Still there. So good to see it again. Been too long.
Gathering my thoughts from the drive, the dogs, my camera and notebook, I walk across the parking lot toward the beach.
I sit down at a picnic table and begin to write.