When Hugh and I are strolling about town, me hoisting his increasingly heavy frame in a front facing carrier, we’re frequently greeted by those we walk past. It’s rare to go on a walk and not experience waves, smiles, and greetings of “what a happy baby!”, “he’s so alert”, and “look at his bright eyes”. Hugh loves the attention and, as his mother, I get a burst of energy each time a stranger greets Hugh with a compliment. It’s caffeine for me and stimulation for him. Hugh frequently presents as the happiest baby when he’s in these situations, because as I’ve written before, he loves walks and he loves being outside. (Although since he learned to crawl about a month ago, our walks are now shorter to allow him ample time to move around.) I always leave these interactions with a jolt of positivity, but also with a feeling I can’t quite name.
Americans like to talk about how hard we work. It’s a common fact that Americans take less vacation time than other nations, work longer hours, and reap fewer benefits. Many “white collar” jobs come with the expectation that one will work outside of office hours and will feel guilty when taking a sick day or vacation day. The concept of relaxation, if any is done at all, will happen with other coworkers through the drowning of exhaustion and irritation in drinks and fried food. Leaving work early is frowned upon, often despite stated company policy.
Hugh is 7 and a half months old and my garden is ripe within the heyday of summer. While both still require time and attention (more for the baby than the garden, obviously), lately the tide has shifted from constant analysis to moments of pure enjoyment.
Around this time each year, I have no choice but to shake free of the failures of my garden and enjoy the successes. It’s too late to replant a crop that didn’t work. It’s too late to fill in a gap in one of the beds. This year, my tomatoes, eggplant, and delicata squash are either fruiting or setting flowers, promising future harvests in weeks or months. The potatoes have flowered and the potato plants are beginning to wilt, sending their final bit of energy to the underground tubers. The basil is perky and richly green and the beans require constant picking. These are the highlights, and this year, more than any year in the past, I’m reveling in them.