The kids are out for the summer and ours are all home one more time. I am blissfully working from home this summer without all the travel. There are a couple of projects that look to be a go, and I am working to close them so I can grab these three months without worrying about the next one at least for a while. We have a 23 year old in residence, a nineteen, and a twelve. It is a gladdening feeling to have all of us here together for what might be our last summer together.
Benjamin will be a second semester college senior who is actually starting to use the word graduation in a sentence. He is working for us this summer, fixing, painting, and repairing a whole host of two hundred year old house issues too small to get a contractor’s attention, but annoying for the inhabitants, or at least to one of them anyway. He was using some kind of putty the other day and I wondered how he’d learned to make the repair he was working on. Neither John or I are very handy. Some people have lawyers on retainer. We have always had a handyman. Excepting during the summer in Vermont when those kinds of guys make all their money for the year and our little projects get put on hold until after deer season. So for a few months we have broken light switches, fences that need mending, plaster that needs tending, etc., etc. Anyway Benjamin was repairing a board on one of our four porches. And I wondered how in the world he had learned to do it. He said he went to the hardware store and bought some tools and read their directions. Huh. Wood putty comes with directions. Who knew? My porches are gleaming next to the fence that looks brand new. And the guy doing the work leaves no cigarette butts behind and kisses my cheek when he comes in the door.
Hannah our scholar is home splitting her time between nannying and doing some design work on a couple of my projects. I hired her to do an auction booklet for a development client that was having a fund raiser and it was as good as any I have ever seen. She has long been a hobby photographer and now she has these digital skills that are another of the things I have never managed to acquire. Next she is dipping her toes into designing stuff for a capital campaign and another regular sales project. She works from home and is glad to get up at 5 to finish something I need to have at someone’s offices when they arrive. Then we choose the day’s toenail polish and paint each other’s while we take turns on the project draft. I cannot believe my luck.
Eli our twelve year old is living outside with his pals Luke and Timmy. On any warm day they are in some body of water somewhere. Vermont woods are known for their clean rivers and cold swimming holes. Today they are hosting a woodland battle that will likely be followed by a hot game of basketball. The badminton net is up and as the sun dips behind the mountain they bring out the glow in the dark birdies and the bats will chase the ones that go high.
John and I are thrilled to be here after the long pathos of the Horrible Quaint Country Store. We giggle and gush about the way this summer seems like our first. Was it this green last year? Wasn’t it hotter and wasn’t there a haze? The garden seems richer. We cut flowers and fill our vases with its pink and purple bounty. We hold hands and swing on the porch with our coffee after the birds wake us up.
We wrap up every evening with movie thrillers. We have been through the Ocean movies, the Bournes, nine Harrison Fords, The Sting and a whole bunch of others made especially for 12 year old boys with college siblings. The big kids bail on us and go out with their friends a couple of nights a week, but just as often they all come back and add their older silly voices to the cacophony of people fighting over the Snow Caps and Dots.
The death of Tim Russert has hit me hard. I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend. But it is a reminder. If I were only allowed a short life, but got to pick this one with these people, I’d make that deal. Tim made a life he loved. I think that is our obligation. There were too many days that I forgot the lesson during the quagmire of the store. And what’s happened this year is that I have remembered about joy. The joy imperative….these lives are ours. We get to pick what we do with them every day. We are the sum of our choices. I’m listening Timmy.
Now I just may go and have that Ben and Jerry’s chocolate and peanut butter swirl for supper…