Another Day in the Country
Finding what to do with time on your hands
© Another Day in the Country
When I was in California this summer, I had lots of time on my hands on the weekends. My daughter was usually working on Sunday and her husband was at home.
After spending Monday through Friday with my grandson, I felt it was the polite thing to back off on the weekends and let him spend time with his dad.
Dagfinnr’s father has loved to play video games for as long as I’ve known him. He still does! It’s natural that my grandson’s interest in gaming technology is avid. These two can sit on the couch, most often playing separate games, for hours on end.
I, on the other hand, get stiff in mind and body when I sit for an hour or two. I’ve never been a sit-down kind of person, much preferring to be on the go and doing something. So perhaps you can see that this summer, on weekends, I had time on my hands that dragged some days long and heavy.
Yard work is the thing I naturally gravitate toward when I have time on my hands, but my age and 20 years of overgrowth on this small acreage limit what I can safely accomplish.
I wish I could still wield a chainsaw. There are trees that need trimming, but I don’t think it’s wise. Even a shovel and rake seemed suddenly feeble in my hands on this mountainside where a pickaxe was used to carve out space for a lawn and shrubbery 50 years ago.
I set to trimming back the ivy that survives arid summers and thrives during the rainy winter season. Containment is the name of the game. I thinned bamboo and repaired a rock wall.
I sat in a lawn chair in the shade and talked to Dagfinnr’s chickens. I brought up the last of the orchard grass to put in their pen. They love digging around in that hay because of all the tiny grass seeds they can find. When they settled themselves down on the hay to snooze in patches of sunlight, I sat in the chair reading, until my daughter came home from work and family life started again.
During the week, there are a different set of tasks that consume the day. The routine is that I take my daughter to work, stop at the spa to exercise, get groceries, come home, fix lunch, play some games with my grandson, watch an episode of an older British television show we both like called “Still Game,” about two old Scottish duffers my age. The show is funny, entertaining, with loveable characters that my 12-year-old grandson seems to enjoy as much as I do. Jack and Victor, the two friends inhabiting the show, have time on their hands, too. We’ve watched every episode more than once.
I’ve read quite a few books during the summer. Looking back through the diary I keep with quotes from books I’ve read, I decided to tell you about two of them. The first is a book called “Educated,” by Tara Westover, a memoir.
Maybe the book resonated with me because I was reminded how our upbringing influences our lives, choices, beliefs, and attitudes. Being raised by God-fearing, evangelical parents still subtly yet irresistibly frames my outlook to this day.
The concept found in scripture, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,”
I’ve found it to be terrifyingly true. While I’m most grateful for all the good things I learned growing up, there are attitudes, taught to me in a well-meaning way, that weren’t right, concepts that didn’t hold true, ideas that needed more enlightenment, and notions that weren’t accurate — like racism, for example, or how one views gender roles.
Our viewpoint, right or wrong, is imparted to us subtly at an early age, and we are often unaware of how deeply some foolish notion can be imbedded. Perhaps this is what we are called upon to contemplate, when we have time on our hands.
Chelsea Handler also had a volume on the “new book” shelf of the library. She’s a wild and crazy comedian, too much for me usually, and at first, I hesitated reading her book, but I’m so glad I did. It is, in my opinion, a great book with a great title, “Life Will Be the Death of Me.” It’s funny, poignant, raucous and enlightening.
The quote I liked best from her book was from Gloria Steinem, “True progress lies in a direction we haven’t gone.”
I offer that gem for contemplation on another day in the country.