I was impatient this morning as I watered our blackberry bushes from the hose attached to the rain barrel. The water oozed out lazily, slow to relieve the cracked dirt parched from four days of ninety-degree sun.
I moved hastily from bush to bush, and my thoughts slipped easily into the mucky rut of shoulds. “I should paint the deck, clear the clutter from all the cabinets and drawers in the house, be a better example of flossing for Nina, iron the kleenex, blah blah blah.
Then I saw the first ripe blackberry — my benchmark for the first day of summer — and I felt lit up by simple, peaceful, joy.
I laid down the hose and let the rivulets seep into the soil around the bush, imagining the water caressing the tangle of roots underground. Every summer I am amazed by the resilience of these bushes and how they bear fruit despite a temperamental winter, despite my inattention. Once again, Nina and I will begin each day with cups in hand to collect the berries and we will joke about how we will surely turn purple if we eat one more plump berry.
As I picked that first berry, I realized that I’ve skidded into this summer harried with anxiety over how I’d manage the long ambling days of motherhood while trying to find more work and finally finish writing that book.
But in the moment that I tasted the berry, sweet with a tinge of tart, I wondered if the most important thing I can really do is be open to joy. Lighten up. Slow down. Savor.
I will always have a to-do list, and it will never all be done. If I accomplish only one thing today let it be the humble acknowledgement that a full rain barrel and an embankment of blackberry bushes is a luxury in this war-torn, impoverished world — and I am grateful.