Out in the yard the deflated palm trees droop languidly across the stump of the birch tree and discarded grass skirts languish in the crotch of the apple tree, like frat boys and debutantes after a long night of debauchery.
Thus we survived the birthday party. No one sustained major injuries on the Slip ‘n’ Slide, a cheap plastic gizmo designed for the very purpose of encouraging children to do things that will cause injury. There was only one scrum of grass-skirted little girls around the largest palm tree that resulted in tears and Time Out. Being the one who needed it the least, I was probably the only one to finish her plate of cake, lick it clean even. I don’t especially like cake, but I love chocolate buttercream filling.
My daughter, who has previously sworn up and down the steeple that she would never waste her time reading my blog, whose favorite cyber interaction with her mother is to change all the settings on my Facebook page to indicate that my favorite activities include belly dancing and henna tattoos and my favorite musicians are Kesha and Lady Gaga, broke precedent today and read my most recent blog and pronounced it “Not okay. TMI.”
“But you don’t even read my blog,” I informed her.
"It sucks to be the child of a writer," she said churlishly.
She is right of course; it is not remotely okay to whine and complain as I do, especially when blessed as I am with delightful and truthful offspring, the perfectly sweet and perfectly kind CSB and all the dogs, chickens and bees. Not to mention ripe raspberries and peaches.
I like to think that I have respected my children's privacy and refer to them in these pages either obliquely, or in such loving terms that their only objection could be of the eight-year-old's "Don't kiss me in public" variety.
But they disagree. At least my daughter does. My son really does not read the blog.
And her objections fill me with self-doubt and self-loathing. Why do I have to write anything at all that would offend anyone at all, even if they never read these virtual pages?
Mostly I write about bees and books, saints and chickens, but it is true that I sometimes venture into more personal tales. And why is that? In some cases because if you can tell a story about an uncomfortable situation, if you can elicit even a grudging chuckle, then you have mitigated the pain and transformed sheer misery into narration.
In the case of the most recent blog - to articulate one’s fears is to take away some of their power. The worst things are the unspeakable things. I have a – perhaps misguided, perhaps simplistic – belief that talking about a problem is a giant step towards solving it.* If I can simply say: All my blood has drained out and been replaced with liquid panic, then I feel that I have gained a slight edge in the battle with that panic. I have not capitulated to depression’s omerta.
We are fainting and fading in this heat. The chickens glumly stare at the cloudless sky, then retreat to the shadows of Clucker Hall. The grass is as brown as a monk’s habit. The bees beard the outer walls of the hive. The ferns flop like laundry. The tiny black ants would like to move, but instead they are moving the earth.
*Obviously both mistaken and foolish; nothing in my life thus far has proven the truth of this adage, yet I persist.