And my Pre-Travel Clean Up Mania seems to have drifted into the garden. Maybe it is the summer version of this affliction? I'm leaving for a week in Maine, stopping at various bookstores and gathering places, and visiting with one of my favorite English majors, Judith Daniels. I love road trips: none of the anxiety of plane and train schedules, and I can pack extravagantly because the car has never established baggage restrictions. I took a look around my home, after we finally got some rain, and thought, if I let this garden go one more week, I'll need a machete to get back in. So after a quick sweep through the house with the broom, I headed into the garden.
I began deadheading, and weeding, and pruning. I was stunned to realize exactly how far things had gone, while I was in my heat wave torpor. The detritus piled up; I carried it out of the garden in a straw basket, and piled it into the wheelbarrow for a run to the compost heap. One must be ruthless, I kept saying to myself, as I took the sheers to the roses. The teasel that had looked so charming in its infancy was now a looming menace, covered with thorns, very goth. I realized I hadn't spent much time sitting on my bench because I was too afraid to brush past the teasel to get there; I was avoiding the neighborhood. Whack. Out you go! Sweat was pouring from me, of course; another heat wave. This is the way summer is going to be, from now on--I kept repeating that, too--and then suddenly realized: if we're lucky, and it doesn't get worse.
Then I thought about the wonderful conversation I had had in Bristol, at Sue Woodman's charming A Novel Idea Booksellers. A gentleman named Clyde asked me what was the difference between joy and happiness? Why did I say I had found happiness, in the subtitle of Slow Love, and not joy? I didn't have an easy, or quick, answer, and I fumbled and rambled. But as I was clipping, I thought, joy seems to come in bursts, happiness is more like groundwork? A good question, and I was grateful to him for giving me something like this to think about. So I pass that gift of a question on to you.
And I thought about Christine, recently moved to Rhode Island from Kansas, and how I had just assumed she was an artist when I met her, and said so--and she was startled, as she is a businesswoman; she had let go of her painting long ago. She had just started thinking about returning to it. Good luck! We too often let go of our early dreams, and forget what it was exactly we yearned to do, and when we recognize those dreams again, whether deliberately or by accident, we are suffused with a feeling of old, familiar, love, and it is wonderful. Joyful.
And then I took a page from pen pal Jeff, and gave into the heat; I simply relaxed, and enjoyed the primal feel of the body in motion: muscles tensing and stretching, fingers responding to brain signals, perspiration cleansing through the whole system. The garden began to look the way a poodle looks after its summer cut. It will benefit from the air circulation. I will benefit from the sweat circulation. When my wheelbarrow was brimming I stopped a few moments and admired my accomplishment. A full wheelbarrow is a very satisfying thing. I leaned on my shovel, and felt...happy.