I filled up a colander with lettuce and green beans. I happened upon the last cucumbers of the season and cut some anemic basil.
I filled a take out quart container with flowers: mini crimson dahlias and creamy pink sedum and burgundy and ivory mums. I tucked a spring of sage in there and a couple of red-violet cosmos.
After the kids were in bed and I had tired out the puppy, I put on a headlamp and ran out into the chill that made me believe frost might come. I pulled back the sheets I had spread over the pepper plants and picked half a dozen green ones for good measure.
This is what September should be. Crisp apples. A flurry of garden gleanings. Trying to figure out how to preserve it all.
Six years ago my tomatoes sat forgotten in my garden. Lettuce was abandoned. Did I even plant beans or peppers or broccoli or kale?
Instead of working in my kitchen of an ever earlier darkening evening, I was sitting in a hospital that always seemed bright. I was waiting.
At that point I wasn’t waiting to see if my son’s life would be preserved. No, I was simply waiting to be released, to get back to our regularly scheduled life.
The one with tomatoes sitting on the counter waiting to be turned into sauce.
The one where I was tired because my baby woke in the night to eat.
The one where portable oxygen tanks weren’t needed.
And yes, the one where I was scheduling appointments with PT and OT and speech, follow ups with the cardiologist, and check ups with the ENT and ophthalmologist, because I had accepted that those were parts of our new normal.
The hospital visit wasn’t part of the plan any more than the Down syndrome or the NICU stay had been. We had been settling in to our new, post-surgery normal. And then a cold. Okay, a cold is normal.
An ambulance. No.
A ventilator. No.
Another ambulance. NO.
After a week, we didn’t really know what was wrong, and there was no sign that we would head back to our life any time soon.
On these bright September days when summer and fall are struggling for dominance and the school bus’s twice a day arrival is part of the way we tell time, part of me walks those halls again. I’m wearing a temporary name badge and avoiding the people who look too familiar with the place. We’re just here for a quick visit after all. We’re going home to visit the farm and let our five-year-old neighbor hold Henry. We have tomatoes to pick and buses to wave to and baby group to go to. We have a life to live. Or so I think.
On these bright September days, even in the midst of all the winding down, I feel the hope of all that is to come.
Write with Me:
I wrote this last September. I started out looking at the pile of garden gleanings filling my table and counters. I didn’t know where I was going to go with it. I just followed and kept writing.
Today start by looking around you.
What do you see? Your dog, the toys the kids didn’t put away, a framed photograph from years ago, the butternut squash you were thinking of cooking . . .
Start with one thing you see. Describe it. React to it.
See where it leads you.
What prompted your writing today? Where did it take you? Tell us in the comments (even if it was a dead end).