Robbi returned from Alaska about a week ago, but just as suddenly she is gone again on a two-week tour of various points north of here.
She and the kids pulled out of town yesterday afternoon, and I have spent the hours since in shocking, restful silence, a notable contrast to the days that preceded their departure.
First of all, there was the county fair, always a spirited event. This year there were free rides for the kids on a train pulled by a tractor.
And with cars made out of oil drums.
Various exotic wildlife had been brought in from somewhere. Zebras, a camel, and enormous hamsters.
Not to mention a minor fleet of large and elderly turtles.
Of course, the usual barnyard creatures were on display.
Some with shockingly un-euphemistic names. I suppose one can admire the farmer for being up front with the pigs regarding their fates.
My favorite exhibit was this insect collection. It took up nine cases.
I was also quite taken with this plant in a shoe.
And these many excellent vegetables.
And this tiny person who, I was shocked to discover, hadn’t won any sort of ribbon. Because I simply can’t imagine a finer specimen.
In addition to the fair, there was a trip to Costco, during which I was stopped in the parking lot by a woman who wanted to be sure I was aware that I was “the spitting image of Ryan Seacrest.”
I informed her that I was not aware, but that I appreciated the information. I then took out my phone and googled “Ryan Seacrest.” I frankly do not see the likeness, but then I do not see much at all from behind my gigantic sunglasses.
What else? What else? Iggy remained pathetic.
Robbi gave me a haircut and then let Kato cut the left side of her hair.
Before letting Alden cut the right side.
While the result was lopsided and technically unlovely, that this haircut happened is perhaps the purest example of what I love best about Robbi. She loves her kids more than she loves her hair. She knows who she is and likes who she is and knows that none of it has anything to do with whatever is happening on top of her head. That she let two full days in the world elapse before getting an actual hair professional to address the fallout makes me love her all the more.
I took some runs.
I saw a mighty sunflower.
I stopped to admire the crook of the barn.
We went to the pool.
We flaunted our goggles.
We celebrated life’s absurdity.
We utilized life’s gravity.
We basked in life’s golden sunlight.
While Alden played at a friend’s house, the boys and I took out the superbike and headed out into the countryside.
We tried and tried, but couldn’t get the better of our shadow.
I tried and tried, but couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the afternoon.
The evening, however, belonged to the Chestertown Recreation Commission, which had planned an outdoor screening of Back to the Future, complete with DeLorean.
There were passport photos to be taken.
Instructed not to smile, here’s what Augie came up with.
I suppose we already have a fitting mugshot if and when the need for one arises.
And then it was Saturday. We packed the car. We said farewell. And just like that, my family was gone.
And just like that I stared down the prospect of two full empty weeks for uninterrupted writing.
The first thing I did was clean up the studio.
And then I sat down at my desk to write.
Robbi has given me a sabbatical for each of the past few summers, and it has been a welcome (and needed) time of replenishment and creative production. I have a few projects lined up—one book to write and another to revise, the kind of projects that require the kind of sustained focus that’s difficult to muster amid the chorus of small voices.
I started to type and then I decided to go for a run instead. The story could wait. Suddenly, time was not quite as limited as it had been before.
I felt like stretching my legs. It was a beautiful day.
In fact, it still is.