My last berries

July isn’t quite over — I’ve got two days to go — but I also know what I’m going to be doing on those two days, so I feel I can pretty definitively say that they are not going to be the best days of the month. Today is going to be proofing/editing followed by uploading files. Tomorrow is going to be a long, long drive. Neither one is going to come close to Saturday’s simplicity and delights.

So July of 2018 was spent entirely in one place — Pennsylvania, specifically my brother’s places. I bounced back-and-forth between the yard of the unused 1850’s farmhouse (aka the garden house) and the street in front of the house he actually lives in, with a few days actually spent inside the real house, taking care of the dog while the family was away.

For a while, I was pretty sure that my dog-sitting days were going to be my pick for the best of the month. I took baths. I watched television. I used the internet without ever considering connection speeds and data usage. I let the water run while I washed the dishes, and I even cooked bacon! I should have grabbed the opportunity to make some fish, too, but I didn’t.

It was interesting, because I really loved it for the first two days. Maybe even the third. Life in a house is just so easy. Taking a shower whenever the fancy hits as opposed to when I’ve heated the water or feel comfortable with my environment is a serious luxury. When I wanted to cook something, I didn’t have to consider whether I was running the AC and whether another appliance would blow the power. Not needing to strategize about washing dishes, plan out the cooking so as to minimize the mess, think about water use, question the tank levels, balance the electric load, was all so relaxing. But by the fourth day… well, it was kind of boring. I was glad to get back to the van.

I moved the van back to the garden house and settled in. And I’m going to pick Saturday, July 28th, as my favorite day of the month. There were other good days in the month. I took Zelda swimming once and she got to play with a basketball, which was joy for both of us. My niece spent the night and we played board games and had conversations and went out for ice cream, also joy. On July 17th, I finished Grace, which honestly, sort of deserves the award just because it was such a long, long time coming. Of course, I then went back and wrote another chapter a few days later, but still, there was a moment when I thought I was done that felt pretty damn amazing.

But when I woke up on Saturday, Z was snuggling with me. The van was a comfortable temperature, not too hot, not too cold. Outside the window, the sky was blue, and a hawk was sitting in a pine tree. I spent probably twenty minutes lying in bed watching the hawk hop around the tree. It was remarkably ungainly.

When I got up, I took Z for a long walk. My feet got unreasonably wet, but she was super bouncy and energetic, and I scolded her for dragging me. Then I remembered how three months ago, I was pretty sure she was going to die and I got a little teary with gratitude for my dog being obnoxiously energetic. Then she dragged me some more and I scolded her again, but with pleasure that I was having the opportunity.

I settled into work — reading aloud the chapters of Grace for a proof-reading pass — and felt very productive. The day was beautiful, though, so for most of the morning, I had the windows open and the fan running, instead of needing to sit inside the air-conditioning. I felt productive while enjoying nature, which is my favorite way to feel productive.

A little after lunch, my brother came by to do some yard work, and I got him to take me to CoreLife Eatery. The only people who will truly understand my deep, deep, deep love for this restaurant are others with food allergies. It’s such a luxury to have options. They were having a BOGO on a watermelon-feta-mint-chicken-quinoa salad. It wasn’t something I would have ordinarily picked, but it sounded interesting and hey, buy-one-get-one is nothing to scoff at when you’re talking full meals. So I got the watermelon chicken salad and also a flank-steak salad that comes with falafel, wild rice, roasted vegetables and pickled onions, to go. I snacked a little on the latter in the afternoon, but for dinner I ate the watermelon salad and it was delicious, absolutely delightful. The flavors had mingled while it sat and the sweetness of the watermelon went beautifully with the feta and the mint. It was such a pleasure to eat something delicious and surprising. Delicious I manage on a pretty regular basis, but surprising doesn’t happen all that often.

In the evening, I took Z out to the blueberry patch. The season is mostly over, although that’s partly because we’re not defending the berries from the birds. Every time I look, there are plenty of unripe berries, but they never make it to ripe because the birds swoop in and eat them during the day. The one exception is a few of the bushes that are netted. So I went to the blueberries to see if there were any left on the netted bushes and instead I found a bird, trapped in the netting. I wish I had thought to take a picture. I don’t know what kind of bird it was, but I sort of think it might have been a young starling. It was much bigger than a sparrow or finch, and its feathers had a grey fluff look to them that made me think they were maybe not entirely fledged. (Not sure that’s the right word, but the internet is not cooperating with my desire to google.) It was surprisingly challenging to rescue the bird, who was much too scared to understand that the big holes near the scary person were more use to it than the tangled netting away from the scary person, but I finally managed to steer it to freedom. Watching it fly away was lovely. I felt filled with happiness.

And while there weren’t a lot of blueberries, I managed to find some nice raspberries on the way back to the van. That night, while I was going to sleep, I saw a firefly. One lone last firefly to close out a July that has been a very simple, but very pleasant month.