Labor Day marks not only a day for those who toil to make this industrious earth go ’round, but a time when I can get back to work. Either gardening or writing. In these last weeks, I’ve managed both, mostly small jobs in the mornings, writing in the afternoon. Of course, by writing I mean “revising.” I’m back to my novel, the one about the botanist who discovers a rare medicinal apple. He’s hired to propagate it but mysterious forces want to stop his project. I still like the premise. I still like the characters. And now, without little voices saying “Mommy, what fun thing are we doing today?” or “Watch!” or “I need a Band-aid,” I can slip back into the silence of my imagination.
It’s amazing how this time revives my spirit. I was feeling worn out in August. When I wasn’t working, I was hosting guests. Thankfully not high maintenance ones. Still, I was wandering through museums and parks and the hollering Pike Place Market. I was mapping destinations, hanging up swimsuits, walking long distances in uncomfortable sandals. Figuring out which restaurants could seat seven people. I was vacuuming every other day so my cat-allergic relatives would breathe easier. I was finding spots for the extra knick knacks I was given. Breaking down boxes and throwing away wrapping paper. Rearranging furniture. Cooking like crazy. Barbecuing, playing badminton, setting up tents, fixing sprinklers, folding laundry, weeding, sitting in traffic, hurrying to feed the parking meter. Stress, stress, stress.
Now the true vacation is living inside my story. Visualizing the world, hearing my characters speak. Making it all better. Realizing a character needs to go here before they can do this. Rewriting a section so that an incident happens in Chapter 3 instead of Chapter 8. I write notes to myself in the margins. And carry out my earlier margin commands. This is a time when I praise the public school system. It’s educating my children for me. They’re gone. Engaged and on course to learn math and writing and science. I’m on course to pursue my bliss again. I have no other responsibilities in these stretches of time than to open the door for the dogs. And as I read and type and erase and type again, time disappears until I hear my son outside, the slow roll of the gate opening, the gentle click of the kitchen door. It’s then that I realize I’m ready to take a break.
Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.