On Patios and Parenting

One evening last week I went out to the patio to start the grill. It had been a dazzling day, hot and blue with a stormy interruption in the late afternoon. Now the evening lay quietly in my backyard, clear and hushed. In the distance, crickets chirruped and cicadas droned. A waning golden light brushed the trees against the fence. Green leaves ripped from their stems along with a few early fall browns mottled the patio table, were stuck in the grill knobs, and generally created a feeling of tattered negligence.

The detritus of the summer, and of many summers past, lay scattered around the yard. The table in the corner held a few citronella candles burned down to a small glob, a Frisbee, a couple of gardening tools (far too unused this summer!), a tennis ball, a pair of muddy shoes. Farther out in the corners of the yard, the swings waited, the sandbox lay in shadows, and old Pete, the bouncy horse, tilted at a dangerous angle against the fence.

The air was fresh and lovely after the rain, and I stood a while, gazing at this secret garden, both grateful and reluctant. A blur of moments had led to this one, and I tried to be awake enough to receive it and let it go at the same time.

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