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20% Cooler

This summer, my little filly gave away the last of her My Little Pony toys to other kids. She hasn't watched the show since Season 4, but it was fun while her obsession lasted. Now I hear that the series is coming to an end the same summer my daughter has come into her latest superpower: riding a bicycle with confidence!


Now we can go on family bike rides! Last week, we rolled past the elementary school and the church next door with the bell tower that marks every half hour. We entered the park with the big pond full of herons and ducks and geese and fish and coasted through a loud, happy, fragrant family barbecue under the pavilion. We followed the paved trail into the woods behind the park, the trail that goes on for two miles through shady trees and wildflower meadows, turning into boardwalk bridges in a couple of places to cross over creeks that cut through dramatic ravines. We passed kids on skateboards and scooters, elderly people walking with friends, people in wheelchairs, families speaking different languages, grandmothers in vivid saris, athletic gay couples walking cute puppies, all kinds of lovely people enjoying the beautiful day. It even rained on us a bit, and no one was concerned, least of all my daughter. Summer rain is her favorite kind of weather.

About a mile from our destination, we could smell the massive pig and corn roast in the parking lot and garden area of the farm market. They were serving hundreds of people this feast for free, as one of their big promotional parties. As expected, the parking lot was bedlam. People had come from, shall I generously assume, out of town to go on a really! big! shopping trip! with their tank-sized trucks and SUVs, which looked pretty frustrating to try to maneuver and park in the tightly packed chaos. We didn't have to worry about any of that. We sailed around all of that nonsense, handcuffed our bikes to a tree, and went right on in.

We had a free dinner of pulled pork and buttered corn in a greenhouse, and then we rode home again. Our daughter had one little mishap resulting in a skinned knee, but she just shook it off and got back on the bike, because she's a big kid now. As we rolled home through trees and fields lit up with the golden hour of the evening, I looked around myself and breathed the fragrant air and thought, This is my life. This is my life! It felt like a dream, one of those that crush you with yearning to return to them as soon as you wake up. But this is really my life, in this beautiful neighborhood with these beautiful people sharing these simple pleasures. With my family, healthy and strong and happy in this moment.

It was a feeling of contentment so profound that it has re-framed my attitude about a lot of things that have been on my mind lately. I'm good. I have a good life. I'm not rich or famous or politically powerful or accomplished in a way that my mom could brag about to her friends and make them jealous. I'm entering my late 30s and not yet a published author. But I don't think any of those things could possibly make me happier than I am now.

I don't have big personal problems that I'm always struggling against. I certainly have had them in the past and surely will have issues and snags in the future. But right now, I'm really good. My biggest worries and concerns involve protecting what I already have (the safety and wellness of my family, mostly) and reaching outside of myself to help make changes in the world around me and to create art for other people. It's a privileged position that I am in right now, and I don't want to miss it without fully appreciating it. I don't want to waste it; I want to multiply and share it.

That said, I'm slowly but surely revising Hollow Charm. I have revised about 20% of the manuscript at this point, rewriting the early chapters and cleaning out the clutter from plots and characters and paragraphs and sentences.

It's the golden hour of the whole summer right now. My baby starts third grade on Monday. My favorite season, fall, is peeking around the corner and starting to mellow the heat of these late summer mornings and evenings. Soon I'll be back in my normal routine of writing before sunrise, walking my daughter to school, working a short day, and coming home to cook and bake before she hops off the school bus.

What I always wanted to be, I am: a wife and a mother to loved ones I adore.

What I always wanted to do, I am working on: creating art (specifically my novel right now), collaborating with others for social progress, and continuing to explore the joys of being a human person in this particular time and place. My longing to do more and better at these tasks is keeping me sharp, I think. I hope never to be done while I'm still living.

In closing, blessed be in this time of harvest and plenty. Happy almost-fall, pumpkin sluts.

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