October Afternoon

It occurred to me today that I’m almost halfway done with October. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. Somehow I moved from “all the days are three days long” to “Many days still feel very long, but somehow weeks slip away from me.” I made this realization while wearing long sleeves and a sweater, laying in my hammock and wishing it were in the direct sunlight instead of the shade. Shade was just a hair too chilly, but sunshine had just the right amount of radiant warmth. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d have to retreat indoors because it was took hot even in the shade. I lay there and tried to savor the near perfect weather and the smell of leaves which were just starting to accumulate on the ground. Catch it now because moments like this will be subsumed by cold and I’ll soon need to stow the hammock for the winter.

My thoughts meander today.

I think about the visit I had with two friends earlier in the day. I set out chairs on my patio, carefully spaced. In the middle I set a small table that had a bin of water bottles and pre-packaged snack foods. This is what gracious entertaining looks like in pandemic times. I was grateful to have the lovely weather and the patio I worked all summer to create. I was grateful to have friends willing to come and sit with me for two hours. I was pleased to have thought of loading a bin with snacks. I figure I’ll be able to entertain this way for another month before it gets too cold even when I light a fire in the fire pit. Or perhaps Utah will have a mild winter. That has happened before and would be great for keeping the pandemic manageable. Of course it would be terrible for the extreme drought conditions. We need a winter full of snow.

I had a book with me in the hammock as I watched a few leaves drift from the tree to where my friends and I sat only a few hours before. But I wasn’t reading the book. Instead I watched a lone quail bobbing his way across my patio to pick at fallen walnuts. I wondered where his companion was. Quail almost always travel in pairs. There were doves, finches, sparrows, and blue jays to keep him company. All of them flittered to and from the feeders I’ve stocked at the edge of the patio. I thought about going to fetch a notebook so that I could work on the presentations I need to give next week at an online conference. I’m excited to try out some of the ideas I have for using zoom backgrounds as part of my presentation. The green screen arrived today and I just have to go and see if the frames I have at my warehouse are the right sized for hanging behind me on camera. I’ve given the presentations before, but I always like to refresh my thoughts and presenting in an online format is new to me. However if I can make it work, that opens possibilities for me to teach classes on my own schedule without being attached to a conference. I like that idea quite a lot. I don’t actually go get the notebook though. I don’t want to scare off the birds.

On the side of the patio near the house there are potted plants sitting in the dirt. They’re waiting for me to put them into the ground. I meant to do it on Saturday, but emotional distress from one of my people prevented them from assisting me with it. I thought about doing it today, but I was focused on setting up for my visitors and then on birds and hammocks and presentation thoughts. The fact that I’m short on sleep does not make the planting more likely. I want to tap one of my in-house assistants to help me, but I’m not sure if they’re in a good emotional space to do assisting. This is one of the disadvantages of being the primary emotional support for my assistant. I have a hard time asking them to step up and do the work that I need done. I always have to provide the motivating force to get a project moving instead of being able to join someone else’s project momentum. Over all hiring my kids as my assistants is being beneficial to everyone, but it is both more complicated and much simpler than hiring someone I’m not related to.

I close my eyes for a moment and just feel the sway of the hammock. In the distance in my mind, out beyond the peace of the moment, I can feel the presence of all the tasks I should be doing. They are the things I must do in order to financially support my ability to have this moment in the hammock under my trees with birds near my patio. If I want hammock moments, I also need to have focused business moments. Fortunately I can enjoy those moments too, just in a very different way. I sometimes forget that I enjoy the business tasks, which is why I need moments of peace to help me regain perspective.

Eventually I do get up from my hammock and wander myself back inside. Dinner hour is close and I should make some decisions about food. As I enter I see my new pantry wall. It is the promise of the kitchen I’m going to get to have. There are a few more clean up and preparation steps for me to take before I can launch into the next project phase. I’m not rushing to get through them. I’ve had a period of pushing on house projects. They can lay idle for a week or two while I focus on business and career tasks. November is soon enough to tackle the house again, but I have at least two weeks of October remaining before I get there.