© Another Day in the Country
It seems I am one of these people who does better with other people around. Solitary confinement would be hard on me. Being a hermit would never work. I need interaction to thrive and recently I’ve been getting plenty of it.
In June, I flew to California to have a month-long play date with my grandson while his mother, who is a fencing instructor, did weeklong fencing camps.
In mid-July, they flew back with me to Kansas. It’s been two years since they’ve been here, and two years is a long span in a 6-year-old’s life. What would he remember about Ramona? Evidently, only good things because he was so excited.
A week before our departure he asked, “How many more days is it before we go to Kansas?” He said Kansas as if it were Hawaii or Disneyland — for sure an exotic port of call, way beyond rolling hills, hay bales, and wheat fields.
Kansas did look good when we landed in Wichita with green, green, green visible in every direction from the airplane window. Wichita looked like those miniature villages we’d been building for a month with tiny houses and toy cars on the living room floor.
So you can see that for the past few weeks, I’ve had lots of company, 24-hour companionship, and the constant cacophony of a little boy who talks nonstop.
“Look, Baba,” he calls as I peer into the computer screen, “I’m part boy, part bird.”
He has a bright blue blanket that belonged to my mother around his shoulders.
“These are my wings,” he throws his arms out, “and this is my long tail. I’m a peacock,” he triumphs. “Oh, yeah! peacock power!” And he flies out to the porch to see if he can get more of a reaction from his mother and his aunt, who are deep into philosophical discussions.
I love their company! I planted beans to mature while they were scheduled to be around and hoped for tomatoes galore. It is not enough just to have a garden; there is something in my makeup that wants to share the experience. That’s why I write and for sure it’s why I love taking pictures. With a photograph, I could re-experience the experience. I could share the experience, and the experience was enhanced by the sharing. Two sets of eyes, or 12 or 20, made the event even better.
I have neighbors who love diddling in their gardens, creating little nooks and bowers, new paths and ponds. Obviously, they have fun doing it, but I’ve a hunch that the experience is magnified when they invite someone in for show and tell.
I love seeing what they’ve created: vines climbing everywhere, kettles turned into planters, garden ghosts and benches around every corner. I know they have fun playing in their yard, but the frosting on the cake is the sharing of the experience.
My old friend Shawzee was always a people person, and as he got older and his world got smaller, he devised all kinds of ways to have the company he craved. When he was still living in his own home, he kept a stash of Vernor’s Ginger Ale in the fridge to offer to any passerby.
“Come on in,” he’d say, “I’ve got something to show you,” and if he was very clever in his show-and-tell artistry, you could be there for an hour or more.
When he moved into a retirement center near me, he kept a box of See’s chocolates on the table by the door.
“Come see what I’ve got,” he’d coax, proffering the delicacies, and while you chose and savored he’d have the company that he craved.
This summer, while I was gone, I asked myself whether I really wanted to keep writing this column. Writing with heart is such a delicate balancing act, especially when you don’t see your audience.
“Is it worth it? Do I have anything more to say?” I asked myself, “How much longer will I do this?” I queried, “Who needs the deadlines?”
I tried on the notion of quitting like trying on a readymade dress. And then I sat down at the computer and started to write. I was craving your company.
Yes, writing Another Day in the Country pulls you into my world. I have your company, even if it is just for the few moments that you stop to read. The neighbors walk on down the road, my kids fly back to California, my friends goes on home but once a week, you’re here.