Monday, August 11, 2008

Clothesline meditations

Using the clothesline is one of my favorite activities in the whole week. I love clothesline season — even when it’s hot, sweaty work… which is really weird. I hate being hot and damp, but somehow it fits, and I enjoy it when it’s part of accomplishing good work.

I love the way the animals mosey up to me when I’m at the clothesline. Paisley swirls herself around my ankles. Chanticleer and his favorite hens suddenly realize that the bugs in that part of the yard are tastier. The goats wander over and nibble on the stuff growing along the fenceline nearest where I’m working. Apparantly they enjoy my company, and I’m glad because I enjoy theirs.

I love August in Virginia. When I’m hanging the first load out after breakfast, the air is cool and fresh and the crickets are still chirping. By the time I take the second load out, the crickets have gone to sleep but the cicadas are buzzing. There’s a family of funny fat green bugs that is very industrious — they’re busy with their saws and ratchets in the treetops. The heat is so heavy that everything seems slow and far away — even the traffic noises sound dull. The only birdsong I hear is the gentle crooning of a mourning dove.

I love the peacefulness of this work. It gives me time to notice things. When I first come out I think that nothing’s happening besides those noisy bugs and the mourning dove singing itself to sleep, but then I notice the butterflies flitting energetically among the cabbage and lettuce blossoms. After awhile I hear an occasional “chit” or “twit” from some unseen bird. A hawk circles lazily high up. Paisley’s kittens tumble and wrestle madly, then stop for a little wash, then dash into the shrubs for a climb…. So many details where I thought nothing was happening!

I love this late-summer feeling. The mad rush of growth in the spring and early summer is over. The apples are so heavy that the branches drag their fingertips in the grass. The summer thunderstorms are over and the fall ones haven’t begun yet. The days are shortening and evenings are full of heat-lightening. The whole world seems to be holding its breath in anticipation of the fall harvest and the rush into winter. It’s like the pause at the top of a swinging child’s arc before reversing and swinging back again.

It seems like this is the season of life I’m in — no longer the mad rush of early marriage with babies coming every year or two and no one old enough to help out around the house. But not yet the mad rush of children marrying and grandbabies aborning.

I love this life.

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