"I can't imagine not working, really. I just think work's more fun than fun." -Mary Quaint
On the average summer day, teenage me would show up at home for dinner after a long day with my friends spent swimming, boating, water skiing, swimming some more, and enjoying whatever other lake culture hijinx we could fit into our busy schedule. I lived a life of incredible fun.
Seated around the table, my brothers would shovel food into their mouths as my mom told us about her day. She might have cleaned something out of the ordinary, fixed something that was broken, taken on a painting project, refinished a piece of furniture, or dug around in the garden. Always, she was pumped about her accomplishments.
These activities did not sound like fun to me.
They sounded like dreadful hard work.
And truth be told, I felt very sorry for my mom, that her life contained none of the fun and frolic that mine did. Such a pity, I thought, to be an adult stuck at home on a beautiful summer day with nothing better to do than dirty, difficult chores.
"I will never be that kind of adult," vowed sweet little teenage me."I'll always have fun."
I smile just to think of that girl.
* * * * *
Today was a lovely if typically cloudy and cool midsummer's day in the Pacific Northwest. And I spent five solid hours of this day doing what I love to do best.
Working in my garden.
Now I don't mean that I was strolling about the grounds in a floral dress, straw hat on my head and basket on my arm, thoughtfully snipping delicate flowers to fill my vases indoors while reciting poetry to the birds.
Wearing a navy tank top, black bike shorts, and a grubby pair of trainers, I dug holes, broke up root balls, and pruned major canes off several rose bushes. I transplanted several dozen irises, ripped out expansive patches of invasive grass and weeds, and mulched my beds deep with wheelbarrows full of homegrown compost.
This was a dirty, messy, sweaty affair, and I came away with dirty fingernails, wet shoes, at least thirty bloodied wounds on my hands, arms, and legs.
Those roses sure put up a good fight.
But don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Not in the least.
* * * * *
Over the course of the afternoon, I waved off several neighbors heading out for the weekend: to the islands, to the beach, to the sunshine on the far side of the mountains. Their vehicles groaned with racks of bikes, giant coolers, kayaks on the roof, speedboats in tow, kids and dogs in the back seats bouncing with excitement.
"What are you doing this weekend?" they called to me as they slowed down in front of my sidewalk, "Just staying home?"
"Yep," I replied with a secret smile that I'm sure they didn't notice. "Staying home and working in the yard."
* * * * *
And when we got back home, as Gracie enjoyed her dinner and a long, cool drink of water on the front porch, I wandered back to look at my handiwork.
I felt deep-down delight.
My bones ached with contentment.
My soul soared at the sight of
the happy, healthy plants;
the rich, loose soil;
the familiar colors and textures of each blossom, each stem, each leaf.
Every cell of my being vibrated on a higher frequency; my body hummed with satisfaction.
* * * * *
I still like to have fun.
But these idle pleasantries are nothing to the rewards of a good, hard day's work in my garden.
Because now I know my mother's secret: working hard is without a doubt the best kind of fun.