The summer is halfway over. Our hay has reached my chin in places and completely engulfs most of the kids. They swim through it, paddling in an exaggerated breast stroke and spitting the hayseeds as they go. Our Jeep leaves a deep track when we drive out to the woods to pick raspberries.
A few days have reached 95 degrees or higher, with close to 100% humidity. Within 5 minutes of walking out the door you’re dripping with sweat. The goats have abandoned their afternoon grazing in favor of sprawling in the shade of the pasture tree or finding a restful spot in the barn. The ducks splash in their pond and the chickens scratch holes to dust-bathe in the cool dirt under the porch.
Every day brings a new marvel. An enormous toad living in our tomato patch, as big as the palm of my hand, and a tiny tree frog the size of a nickel. A 4ft long snakeskin that was shed next to our woodpile. Huge wild blackberry brambles growing all through the woods, 4-5lb buckets of wild black raspberries still coming in for the freezer every other day. Our two surviving chicks growing their adult feathers and dutifully following their mama hen around the nursery pen. Green tomatoes everywhere.
Thunderstorms have swept through for the past few days, soaking every inch of our porch and rattling the windows. Flickering lights sent us running for the flashlights and oil lamps- just in case. Sadie (10) is reading ‘War of the Worlds’ and epic Street Fighter 4 battles are waged when it’s too hot or wet to play outside- sometimes Mom even wins.
We’ve started splitting firewood for the winter. A huge cherry tree, diseased and mostly dead, is coming down in pieces. Relatives have given us loads of unwanted deadfall from their own properties to split and stack. In two months there will be a chill in the night air and frost on the ground every morning.
I’m struggling to find peace with a lot of things right now. I’ve made many apologies lately, one of which was long overdue. Finally being well enough to see things clearly has brought a lot into perspective. Ironically, it’s also made the guilt almost unbearable at times. Righting past wrongs is helping somewhat. I can’t change the past; I can’t change the hurt I caused when I was at my lowest. I’ve swallowed my pride and done everything I can to make things right in the places that require it- those issues are no longer in my hands. What falls on deaf ears is out of my control. Not everyone wants to fix things the way I do, and that just can’t be my fault anymore. I atone for my sins every day as it is.
I quit smoking, and I’m eating more often. My husband can’t count my ribs from across the room or feel every knob of my spine anymore. The maddening rash on my arms from my new medication is slowly receding. ‘What was’ is fading into ‘what is,’ and what should be. Inspiration and motivation temper the guilt and sadness. I run with my little wildlings as often as possible and soak in their enthusiasm for life. The slow turn of the season is not far away, bringing new wonders for us to search for.
Our crooked tree, which was presumably struck by lightning over a hundred years ago, continues to grow and thrive despite its obstacles. It’s leaves will turn brilliantly red and orange before falling to the ground to be buried by snow all winter. Next spring’s sunshine will bring new life to its branches, to flourish and reach further once more. It survived what has ended many others like it, so maybe there’s hope for this broken soul too.