contained joy

I planted tomatoes this evening. Spring came so early and I am so late that the greenhouse was nearly out of stock. I bought four of the last six plants! I had no choice in variety but these are fine, sturdy stalks. Apparently, they’ve had good care under watchful eyes while I’ve been squandering away planting season.

They are loaded with yellow blossoms. A few small green fruits have already set. The stems and foliage smell pleasingly earthy. I placed each at one end of a large oblong planter and filled in with a few buttercup squash, pickling cucumbers, and zucchini plants. That was just too easy.

I remember well the days of big gardens and big plans. We always planted more than we needed, even with a rapidly growing family. The spring seed catalogs set us to dreaming in February when there was at least two full months of winter ahead. Such variety! We undid ourselves in our zeal.

Inevitably, the weeds got away from us by July and we suffered two full months of shameful neglect. Somehow we always got what we needed out of the mess we created. I pickled and canned and froze produce until I could hardly stand upright. There were never enough hours in the day.

And now, there’s just the two of us. We only need a few of anything. It sometimes still feels odd, the chids grown and on their own. But there is something to be said for having time to take a breath, as bittersweet as it might be to realize those beautiful, busy days of family responsibilities have passed. Still, there is joy in each day — always, always! something to savor.

It’s quiet tonight on the patio; a perfect 72 degrees. A light breeze rustles the birch leaves, carrying the sweet scent of lilies. The train whistle blows, long and slow, as the conductor crosses the tracks ten miles to the north. A tractor rumbles from the back forty, pulling equipment that whines like a mosquito. Between here and there, bullfrogs in the swamp are ramping up to their evening crescendo. A pair of crows parade across the back yard like sentinels on patrol, stopping only when they can’t resist a tasty bite.

Sister sun sets with slow, summer’s eve aplomb, lighting the clouds above the trees. Purple-blue, then yellow; yellow-pink, then orange. I remind myself to look up, before it is too late. I am here. This is now. It’s mine to miss or to treasure. This is joy, barely contained.

~René Morley

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