LABOR DAY REFLECTIONS
I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century. Domestic bliss comes naturally to me. Career (at least with a Capital C) does not.
I just got done making my second batch of preserves for the season. Peach. The first batch was strawberry. I’ve never made preserves before, except once with a neighbor in Tennessee, and I really didn’t grasp the whole thing. But thanks to a kind friend who gave me a lesson last week, I’m now doing it on my own, and it feels challenging, but good. Very satisfying.
The rest of the day will be devoted to laundry. Ho-hum, you say? Well, yes, I suppose, in a way. But it’s Labor Day, and what else can you do? You can’t go to the mall or the grocery store. I guess you could go to the movies (if there was anything worth seeing). But it’s definitely too hot for a picnic. My idea of heaven today is to stay inside with the A/C blasting.
So, getting back to laundry. And cooking. And all those infinite little chores that make a house a home. Not to get too Martha on you (although I secretly admire and envy Martha) – but I do think of the home I share with my husband and our two cat children as our canvas, our one truly original work. It reflects our values, our foibles, our sense of aesthetics (or lack thereof), and even perhaps it influences all those things, too. I can look at the state of the house and get a good sense of our state of mind. We have a predictable but satisfying division of labor between us; I generally tend to the inside of the house, while Art generally tends to the outside. Each of us feels free to cross the inside-outside line to help the other.
But you can’t always judge mental state by outward cleanliness. Chances are, if my house is a mess, I’ve been preoccupied with writing. That doesn’t mean that my psyche is a mess. In fact, when I’m preoccupied with writing, that’s kind of like housework of the mind. I mean, I scour out all the cobwebs, the confusion, the dusty relics of past hangups, then go about searching for hidden treasures which have been buried in debris. I take the treasures out and polish them, make them gleam, and put them in a place of honor to be appreciated by all. Doesn’t leave much time for cleaning.
On the other hand, when I am preoccupied with my home, all that inner stuff gets put on the back burner to simmer. There is something unbelievably liberating about devoting an entire day to setting things to right; watering the plants, dusting the furniture, scrubbing the kitchen floor, finally getting around to that sticky imprint on the counter that’s been bugging you for six months, throwing away old newspapers and magazines, emptying the trash, de-lousing the bathroom, vacuuming the rugs. Then maybe you turn on the radio, wash your hands and bake a batch of muffins. At the end of such a day, it seems that the house sings to me. For one brief, shining moment, all is right with the world. Then, one of us turns on the news. (Sigh).
Back to 2004.