Averyt: A Fruitful Summer
This year, my summer is going to be a little less fruitful – or at least compared to recent years, vegetable scarce.
That’s because my friends, long time proprietors of what I call the many-acre-garden, are moving south. It’s a combination of the allure of sunshine and the consequence of aging. My friends are craving warmth and relocating to a place where gardens don’t grow in summer and snow doesn’t fall in winter.
The title of this new chapter in their lives is retirement; the back story for me is saying goodbye. I guess like gardening, getting older is about seasons and change, about ripening and harvesting. About thinning, and tending and uprooting.
Recently, I’ve renewed an old friendship with the poet Emily Dickinson. She’s good company in a sleepless night, sharing her musings on the ordinary and the extraordinary. In a poem I read a few nights ago, she speaks with eloquence of that special quality of light that comes in spring time, lingers briefly and then is gone, a metaphor of both fullness and loss.
In my mid-60s life, it’s not just the calendar that tells me I’m aging. My bones remind me every morning, my joints crackle, my stamina squawks. But life doesn’t just take away. The beauty is in the paradox. As we age, we grow more forgetful and we remember more vividly. We feel contentment as well as regret. Our sleep patterns change and we watch more sunrises. We slow down so we can catch up with our grandchildren and we free ourselves of ambition and inhibition so we can remember how to play.
With my friends gone this summer there will be less kale and fresh corn, less squash and fewer homemade berry pies. I’ll miss barbeques on the deck and even more, I’ll miss sitting with my friends and talking away summer evenings.
But the good news, they remind me, is that their new Florida home is open for visitors and it’s located just outside Clearwater, not far from Phillies Way. What a combination - Clearwater, spring training, my Phillies and a place to stay… the future is good.
I think aging is a state of mind, and so is baseball. Baseball has always been my metaphor for hope. In the cold of January, it gives me something to anticipate; in the dark night of February it shines with possibility.
Spring training opens during the blustery month of March, just as the sap is beginning to flow in Vermont and long before the cinder block plunges through the melting ice on Joe’s Pond. Like that special light Emily Dickinson described, baseball arrives each spring, reminding us of what we value.
I love baseball, but I value friendship and family most, even if it means a lot more traveling to share them now. And as for that garden of plenty, maybe this summer I’ll have to start planting my own.