I know this last harbinger of summer festivity is meant to be a time of rest and reflection. Or at least it was in the old days. Most people I know scramble to make plans with friends and family when the last weekend of the summer comes, cramming in all those last-minute memories before the school bell rings, or the weather subtly takes an autumn turn.
But life has raced at breakneck speed this summer, especially over the last few weeks. I can’t think of anything nicer than slowing down to focus on something simple and accomplish it at my own pace.
Our 200-plus-year house is set on a lot fringed with antique trees of a similar age that are so tall and so wide I can’t fit my arms around the trunks. An ornamental European species, they give off a glorious heady perfume in July, and then dump scads of heavy black sap all over the fence. One day the yard looks like it belongs in a Christmas card, the next? Skid row. Last week’s storm didn’t help with wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour. Even my white car was covered in gunk.
Washing the fence is an annual task. Not necessarily an enviable one unless you’re really into cleaning. But I feel satisfied when the color returns and everything settles back into its place. Until it all happens again.
More than the obvious clean-up duty, the task allows me time to clear my head and just focus on the one, mundane effort in front of me. No multitasking. No chauffering. No phone calls or deadline writing. I’m actually looking forward to it. So have fun at the beach, at brunch, or off to visit the relatives. Around these parts it will just be soap and water, the fence and me.
And unlike Tom, who, at least fictionally, got others to do the job for him, this one is all mine.