Trimming Back The Branches
Yeah, that's a guy up there in the Oak tree that extends up and over our house. This one, remember? We were doing a little trimming project this morning, and as I drove to the office after the work was complete I couldn't help but see our backyard maintenance as a metaphor for the way this time of year makes us feel. I guess I should say makes me feel, so as to avoid speaking for the entire civilized world.
We're celebrating Memorial Day here in the U.S. on Monday, which means a three-day weekend and the "unofficial" start to summer. Skies are blue, the green is back - seemingly everywhere you look - it's just a great and increasingly casual time of year. Everything feels lighter. It's like the branches have been trimmed back between your ears, behind your eyes.
Don't get me wrong, I like a crisp fall day and freshly fallen snow as much as anyone, but for me they just can't match right now. You hit the air outside and you want to breathe, as opposed to defend against the elements. The focus turns to planning summer vacations, coordinating camp schedules and weekend get-aways. The kids are home from school, shorts and Crocs and backyard BBQs are resurgent. Pools are opened, bikes dusted off in the wind, long and leisurely afternoon walks around the neighborhood are possible again, transient masterpieces in sidewalk chalk, bubbles floating overhead, it's all right there in front of you.
Unfortunately, at this time last year Ava had her little medical emergency, which resolved itself pretty well but did cramp our style a bit in June and early July. We'd like to avoid that kind of trauma this year, and so far so good.
Tonight Madison had something going on related to one of her after-school activities, and Gwen was going to be shuttling her back and forth, so I took Ava out to dinner at the place Maddie and I go most Tuesday nights. We sat in our usual spot near the big glass windows that have been taped shut all winter, and were now flung wide open.
I asked Ava which table she wanted and she picked one in the middle of the row, two on either side of us in either direction. Then she asked me where Madison and I usually sat and I motioned to the table on the side, up against the wall. She took a second to process the information and then said, "Dad, I want to sit there." I asked if she was sure and she said she was, so we moved over.
We ordered and I mentioned that Monday was a holiday and we had a three-day weekend coming up. "I know," she responded, and then our 5-year-old completed the thought with a line I couldn't touch, a piece of evocative minimalist brilliance worthy of Hemingway himself.
"No school, no work," she said. "Just together."