i want to do more

The list, if you let me start it, will roll out slowly, tentatively at first, as if testing the waters between us. It will watch for your shrug or your sigh, for you to politely cut me off with a statement of dismissal, or forcefully drive your point into its stream before it gathers momentum.

But if you are feeling gracious and let me ramble, it will pick up speed. You may have thought you knew just what I would say, but I would surprise you. It’s all there, just under the surface. The expected and the norm-shattering, together.

Each morning I rise and wonder if this is the day the dam breaks. The sides of the sandcastle begin to shear off and slide into the center pool, dissolving, despite the incessant pack-pack-packing the foundation into compliance, sturdy and steady and sticking.

I long to test it somewhere safe, to see how bad the flood is. I don’t know where that is, but I’m searching.

saturday morning in the garden

Last week was a long one, and I never could get caught up on sleep. By the time Friday night rolled around, we had a house full of girls and a college soccer game to attend, and the game went into overtime. I barely remember collapsing into bed that night.

Saturday morning came, and my alarm went off just after six. It was so tempting to turn it off. The sun was just starting to stream in through the open windows, the breeze was cool, and the sheets and blankets felt so good. The girls would be sleeping a few more hours if we let them, and I felt like it was perfectly rational to want to stay in bed and grab some more sleep.

Ten minutes later I got up. I knew that this was my time, and that I never regretted it when I took it. I threw on running clothes this morning instead of yoga ones. My yoga instructor wasn’t teaching that day, and I had decided to go for a long run after my morning garden walk. I checked the temperature outside, and threw on a sweater over my tank. I made a quick peanut butter sandwich to carry me through the next three hours and my run, and headed out the door.

The garden seemed quieter on this day. It’s never busy during that first hour of the walking hours, but I was surprised at how empty it was. Maybe everyone else had a similar reckoning moment beneath the sheets. I didn’t mind. An empty garden is my favorite, although I enjoy the quiet nods from others as we walk.

The sun seemed higher than it should be for September – it was a cloudless morning, and warming quickly as it began. The bees and butterflies were abundant, busy and still in turns.

I almost skipped bringing the camera – sometimes I convince myself that I’ve seen it all before, it hasn’t changed that much since my last walk. And then I’m reminded that it’s always changing, and I find new blooms and colors and views that I’ve missed.

The camera lets me look in different ways. I enjoy the heaviness of it in my hand.

I left my car at the garden and ran for the next hour and a half – to and around a nearby park, and up and down the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. When I returned to my car the lot was nearly full, the garden fully open, streams of people filing in the doors with sun hats and strollers. I was headed home to smells of breakfast and a warm shower and a pot of coffee just for me, feeling more rested and relaxed than any good snooze button could offer.

total eclipse of the sun

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Our big summer blockbuster this year happened in the sky overhead. (I desperately want to use the phrase) all the stars aligned and we were able to witness totality about an hour west of the city on a nearly cloudless August afternoon. We sent an invitation out to all the family offering up a place to stay and food to eat and, fingers crossed, a great spot for viewing. The cousins were all back in school, but the grandparents were up for the adventure.

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M and I debated our options for viewing for a few weeks – he had a few construction projects in the line of totality that might offer a place to park and picnic, or we thought we could just drive in the general direction and find a parking lot somewhere to hang out. But a random mention in a conversation on carpools landed us an invite to our friends’ family winery, and the rest is history. We nervously checked the weather forecast all weekend – the chance for clouds and rain keptĀ increasing – but in the end, our spot was perfect. Hot, but perfect.

We arrived early and staked our claim on a picnic table in the shade, and then we set up our chairs for the view. Watching the moon slowly move its way across the sun was far more exciting than I thought it would be. Those glasses really worked! But the real treat was observing the changes as totality inched closer. The temperatures dropped 10-15 degrees, and the cicadas’ chorus began. From our seats we watched the approach of darkness across the valley in front of us and the 360 degree sunset all around us.

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Photographing totality was impossible with my phone, and I didn’t have the correct lens for my nicer camera. But I did think this one shot was cool – you can see the small “sun spot” in the bottom of the shot shows the glowing area where we first started to see Bailey’s Beads. Viewing the corona was really remarkable. Everyone took their glasses off and just stared. It’s something I’ll never forget.

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Reading American Eclipse beforehand was really fun. I still recommend it to everyone I talk to. Even if you only read Chapter 16 on Totality, it’s worth it.

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And we bought these commemorative stamps from USPS for the occasion – plus I bought enough to use on my holiday cards this year. They used heat-activated ink for the first time ever on a stamp, so when you apply heat with you fingertip to the surface of the stamp the full eclipse reveals the surface of the moon before returning back to darkness. Really cool. I’ve framed a set for the gallery wall the girls and I are working on upstairs. 2017 was a summer to remember, for sure.

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