“We’ll work till Jesus comes,” my father loved to sing. It’s taken me decades to learn that life’s hardest work, as well as its greatest pleasure, is learning to truly live it, no matter the season.
September has opened wide for business and every chilly morning signals fall’s advance. This morning when I stepped outside, I noticed flickers—harbingers of autumn—perched vertically on tree trunks, devouring ants and other unfortunates.
Flaming leaves decorate the slender poplar sapling the Preacher transplanted from Hope House. Our five sunflowers droop heavy and golden, and the perennials have stopped flowering. Yellow needles shower the ground under our largest pine. (That concerns me. Evergreens don’t usually shed that much in fall. Perhaps it’s dying of thirst after our dry summer.)
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, summer's crumbs still hold pleasure. Friends make final treks to the beach, golf course and campsites, wringing out the season’s final delights. Not campers, golfers or beach bums, the Preacher and I, with the help of the grandbeans, continue restoring our new, previously neglected backyard.
The youngest two reported for duty today. As I haul dirt from one area to another, Ezra and Lois flit between shovels and water hose, watering plants, pitching dirt and opening mulch and moss bags.
“This is fun,” I tell them, thinking how many, many hours I sit behind screens. “Work is my play!”
Ezra fires back a comment so quickly it seems he’s been coached. “It’s a game you never have to put away!” A few minutes ago, he said, “Nana, I’m the smartest five-year-old boy ON THE EARTH!”
“How do you know, Ezra?”
“GOD told me!” (Ezra also said I could get famous for my chocolate peanut butter smoothie. Perhaps I should take it to market?)
The air nips today. The thought of winter makes me shiver. Unlike that Disney princess in the movie Frozen, the cold does “bother me anyway.” Plenty. But, just as God speaks life in spring, he will once again speak the earth into rest. Winter will follow fall, and we must prepare. For now, I’ll enjoy the game the smartest five-year-old boy ON EARTH tells me I never have to put away. Hefting dirt and peat moss, sheep manure and bark mulch. Arranging bricks and stones as bed borders. And loving the small and busy human beings I get to share the day with.
Lois plucks lovage and lavender, then crushes them together in a bowl of water. “It’s my special cleaner, Nana. Did you use it last time, Nana? Didn’t it smell GOOD, Nana?” I did and it did.
Not all days can be this sweet for any of us. Unless Jesus comes back soon (he may), winter will return. We’ll feel the cold, the sad, the hard, the dark. To everything there is a season, the Bible says. For living and dying, working and playing, embracing and refraining from embracing. But life is still life, even with its jagged edges. God is still God. And both are still good.