Wild & Precious Life – Summer 2021

Summer, oh summer.

I’m writing this in mid-October. The fact that we are well into autumn is not lost on me, but that memo has been missed by Mother Nature. It took over two weeks of diving head on into October for the weather to finally, finally become autumnal. Cool, crisp, woodsmoke in the air.

But I’m not here to write about that just now. We have to back up and return to summer.

It was significantly different from last year. We were able to do more with more assumed safety. A trip to Rochester granted us our first zoo experience which Ryland loved, as did we. And yet, our COVID numbers were growing and became extremely high and that prevented us from doing more. Through the month of July Ryland was able to attend his first, of many, swim classes. By the end of the month, we had opted not to continue with classes in August as COVID numbers had skyrocketed to the highest our area had ever seen.

With that at the back of our minds, we took a weekend to go to Pennsylvania and set my mother up with her first modern cell phone. An iPhone, to be specific. My mother is a woman who does not know how to start a computer. She doesn’t have any streaming services, just a satellite dish, so for her to opt to get an iPhone underlined how stressful the last year had been for all of us. Not being able to receive videos or Facetime at all while we all remained separate was incredibly hard. At least now, while she isn’t the most common of iPhone users, she can receive videos and we can video chat. She’s able to see her grandson growing and hear his voice and all the better.

But it didn’t stop there. My husband’s sister got married over Labor Day weekend, and we never had very high hopes of all of us being able to attend but by August, we were certain that he would be the only one able to go. It was too much of a gamble for my son’s health to take him to the wedding and back. After reading plenty of COVID reports and consulting with my son’s pediatrician, we felt the safest steps to take would be for Bruce to fly out for the wedding alone, wear a mask as much as possible, then quarantine for 2 weeks afterward before coming home so as not to run any risk of his being asymptomatic and giving COVID to Ryland (who is still unvaccinated due to his age).

Luckily, my parents were able to visit for the first week that he was away which was a lot of fun for Ryland amidst the misery of his father being gone. He had just turned 2.5, he didn’t understand why his father was away. He knew a plane had something to do with it, and he could see him on my phone, but beyond that he didn’t understand why he couldn’t just come home.

My parents were only able to stay for a week, the second week Ryland and I were on our own. It was both incredibly awful and the best thing. Awful, because now Ryland didn’t understand why his grandparents left and his father still wasn’t home. Awful, because he missed them all so much and was prone to tears multiple times a day. Awful, because we had a series of severe thunderstorms in the middle of the night that kept him awake and quivering. But it was the best because it was just him and I. We were able to read multiple books together, we were able to do crafts and take walks. Our best day was when we had an indoor picnic. We strung autumn lights around our tv, I threw a blanket on the floor, and we ate cheeses, meats, olives, and fruit while watching Hocus Pocus.

He still, a month later, brings up “indoor picnic” and I’m so deeply happy he enjoyed it so much, I enjoyed it too.

At long last, Bruce was cleared to come home and watching Ryland run to his arms will be forever seared into my mind. We were complete again and it felt good.

This produced another transition in which Ryland struggled with separation anxiety from Bruce. He worried whenever his father wasn’t in his sight and woke frequently; I suspect it was all because he was afraid his father would disappear again. Even a few days ago, we mentioned dropping something off at a location near the airport and suddenly Ryland had run up to Bruce, pulling on his shirt as he looked up at him with desperation saying, “No, dadda. No going to the airport!”

But what of the rest of summer? It seemed to pass in a consistent blur. The harvest was really wonderful this year with so much that came in that I was able to can. We bought more canning supplies and used up every last jar. Tomato sauce, marinara, pickled red beets, pickled white beets, bread and butter pickles, strawberry jam, pickled peppers and onions, apple butter, roasted red peppers. We still have a fridge drawer filled to the gills with apples that will wait their time to be made into apple pies just in time for Thanksgiving.

We never went swimming like we had planned, not in a lake at least or even a river. We had plenty of mini pool parties in the front yard of our complex with the blow up pool we acquired last year. Ryland grew with leaps and bounds both mentally and physically. Standing at 3.5″ feet tall, he’s more than half my height already, standing tall and the top of his head reaching my belly button (and I am 5’9!). It’s amazing to think that a year prior we were meeting with early intervention for speech therapy while now he’s well above his age level when it comes to speaking.

He’s endless energy, strong, and decidedly not wanting to have his one nap a day anymore much to my chagrin (please let it just be a phase!). He memorizes his favorite books and can recite what’s on each page, his imagination is exploding, he loves to sing, and he is beginning to develop true empathy.

Creatively, I found myself busy at work with crochet projects through the end of summer. Another baby blanket–four total for the year–a shawl for a friend, expanding the one shawl for myself, and working on granny squares for a blanket. There was barely any writing, barely any reading, but I suspect the cooler weather and time inside will change that.

Most importantly, I began therapy again. Over the last 7 years, I’ve flitted in and out of therapy. Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder seven years ago, I often will gain control over my anxiety until something shakes my hold on it. The pandemic, family health, being isolated all took its toll on me and I found I desperately needed therapy after a terrible winter and spring. I began therapy again early in the summer and have continued going weekly, and I’m grateful to say I’m gaining control of my anxiety again.

So where does that leave us? Not with much of an update, I’m afraid. But the best I can provide. And perhaps before the new year I’ll be back to share with this little space how our autumn has been going.

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