I planted this pear tree about three years ago, and a monster thunderstorm promptly bent its slender limbs to the ground, turning it into an arch. I thought we would never get any fruit from it, but this year our little survivor is bowing even lower as baby pears appear along its branches.
The babies are the same color green as a pair of earrings bearing an Arab proverb my sister brought me from Egypt this spring. The proverb goes, “Patience is the key to prosperity.”
The little surprises growing on our survivor reminded me patience isn’t just about toughing it out when things get rough, it’s about being patient and understanding of others during their tough times. In the end, the patience will bear fruit.
Ladybugs are amazing little creatures. Somehow they can crawl all over the blooms of Wild Parsnip that have emerged on the borders of our yard and don’t seem any the worse for it.
Like any dedicated photojournalist I navigated through the garden zone to get the day’s news. Crawling between the feathery, yellow blooms to get a shot of a nearby day-lily, a mere drop of the venom from one of these beauties somehow hit my finger. It’s now making the skin on my finger look like a soap bubble, and I am now finding out that, not only am I no lady, I’m not even as ladylike or as tough a a ladybug.
I went out for a treasure hunt after work, sure the entire blueberry crop would have been poached by Japanese beetles. Fortunately, the heat that every Vermonter has sworn they won’t complain about and the humidity we will gripe about seems to have produced a harvest big enough for us and the bugs. I should be happy with enough for a few desserts, but, this year, I want more.
This time most summers we’re planning a trip out to Lake Michigan for an almost annual, unofficial family reunion near South Haven, Michigan. We’re not this year.
I’ve been going to that spot in Michigan since I was a fetus. My grandparents are buried there. We’ve solved the world’s problems sitting around the table on the porch there, watching the sun set over the lake, noting how much the wind in the trees sounds like wave lapping the shore. We’ve forgotten the answers before bed and celebrated the fact of family there for almost every summer of our existences.
But It holds another meaning for me.
Eighteen years ago, the Big Guy and I missed Michigan for the first time. In April, my job had moved us to Germany while I was six months pregnant, and Thing1 was due at the end of July. There would have been no travel that summer.
Thing1 refused to vacate my womb until the last possible minute. The extended family had convened along the lake. Early in the morning the first week in August, the Big Guy phoned th gang in Michigan. They huddled around their speaker phone, as the Big Guy, Thing1 and I took turns talking, crying and babbling about the newest member of the family.
The next year we were all together along the lake.
We celebrated Thing1’s first birthday there.
We celebrated his second birthday there and, because his birthday falls smack dab in the middle of blueberry season, we celebrated with blueberries and cake.
Thing1 has celebrated almost every birthday there with his parents and grandparents and cousins, always with blueberries, and for the last four or five years, blueberry pie.
This summer when Thing1 turns eighteen, we won’t be in Michigan because the Big Guy is getting ready to get a new knee. It’s a good reason to stay home.
As I write this, however, we’re getting ready to take Thing1 back to the hospital for the second time this week to address his anemia, to talk about a new medication and possibly stronger measures to get his auto-immune disease under control.
He is barely eating. He is getting winded after short walks. He is not looking like his normal almost eighteen-year-old self, and we need for him to get at least a little of his own back before he flies our coop.
Last summer, just before we left for Michigan, Thing1 marked his birthday with a hike up the back of Equinox Mountain. He texting us updates of storms and bears on the path until his cell phone died and shortly before he home announcing that he felt truly alive.
We don’t know what the next few weeks or even months hold, but, barring a miracle in the next few weeks, there will be no 10 mile hike. There will be no blueberry festival or typical 18th birthday bash.
There will be a celebration, however. Even if it’s just our family of four cuddled on the couch, we will make sure he knows that, no matter what the circumstances, his being part of our clan for the last eighteen years, his having made us a clan, is something worth celebrating. And, if I have any say in the matter, it will be with blueberries.
Ironically, not having a ‘real’ garden this year may have saved the lettuce during the heatwave. Tucked into self-watering planters in a shady spot on the deck, the Romaine seems to be surviving the heat, if not the appetite of the resident jolly Greens-Eating Giant.
Ironically, the first pile of firewood in the driveway is still a sign spring is still springing. The day-lilies still so brilliantly blooming announce and celebrate summer, but for me, the Black-eyed Susans are the first color of fall.
They open just after the middle of summer and the orangey yellow is a reminder to stop complaining about the heat, but take the time to enjoy it because it won’t last.