Wake for beach walk, stumble to find shoes, make coffee, brush teeth. Morning needs a jacket, today, and a turtleneck. Skies clear, beach full of people exercising in a group. They compete in relay races, and I slooooowly walk with my thermal cup of coffee.
In a few hours I won’t believe I ever needed a jacket: the sun is already warming the living room and kitchen and I’m wishing for a better cross-breeze. But the kids’ bedroom door is closed, and so it will stay for another hour or so, while they sleep in for the last week of summer vacation.
Coffee, with Robert Richardson’s Emerson: The Mind on Fire. Breakfast, too.
Arranged a series of paper grocery bags in a semi-circle around Madeleine on the bedroom floor: “Books,” she marked on one; “Art Supplies to Sort” on another. “Goes somewhere else” and “Don’t Know,” and the worst offender, “Treasures.” Behind her we placed a plastic grocery bag for trash. She asked me for help and I loaded the “Books” bag with the bookish content of her shelves, then I left her to get started. The first “HELP!” came five minutes later, with the contents of the shelves dumped unceremoniously, everywhere.
That’s how she started. I stepped in at her call, every 20 minutes or so, while I cleaned the kitchen. At noon I moved the Books bag to the front, and placed all the books in a sensible order on the shelf. We added all the American Girl books from the living room, and files for paper dolls, magazines, art supplies. A few toys. A basket for special post cards and letters. We decided 35 pencils and pens might be overdoing it, and sorted down to 6. Ditto with many other things. One diary, though eight were started. A place for the library books.
Finished with an orderly shelf by 12:30, with the exception of one mixed up bag of Treasures. (Often stuff labeled “treasures” gets ignored, then a new set of treasures collects elsewhere, then whole years of treasures are forgotten…) We’ll figure out treasures tomorrow, when we can spread them out on the dining table for a few hours.
Brendan, if true to form, will envy Madeleine’s shelf and will organize his own, probably needing no help from me. We’ll see.
When told to “go outside” so I could mop the floor, kids whined for their books and slinkies. They offered to sit in the car while I mopped. Um, okay. They then complained about sitting in a hot car until “we almost DIED.” Hmmm.
The heat is just right for one of the last beach days of summer. Water, warm; sun, high and clear. Shadows from our bodies showed the water to be full of tiny jellyfish—which glow a little in the dark, but otherwise are clear little orbs. So far none of us sports a rash, though children were (gasp!) scooping them up by the handfuls from the shore before I noticed. Wish us luck.
I packed two books, came with two moms and seven kids, and I didn’t read a page. We leave at 5 p.m, too hungry to continue.
Gorgonzola and Walnut Tortellini (thank you Trader Joe!) with a fresh tomato-kalamata pesto, and edamame and red peppers on the side. It was a speed dinner thrown together from findings in the refrigerator, from the remaining bit of garlic in the basket next to the stove.
Scott is home from his first day of teacher training, full of stories, ears tired from listening.
Quiet evening, all of us worn out. Candles light the evening—it’s dark by eight, again! It really is Fall! The braided rug is returned to the clean floor. Man and boy leave to rustle up dessert, on the rare day we’ve run out of ice cream. I hope I stay awake for their return. I’ve been reading Proust in the evening, perfect before bed lyrical reading, but I think I will skip him this evening.
School starts in one week. Kids are thrilled, claiming even to miss homework. I’ve been doing homework as fast as I can: books 1-32 were completed in spring. Five more are complete and three more begun of the next 25. I’ve drafted an essay-- on cooking and eating-- for a new anthology.
It’s a good day in August. Happy end-of-summer.