The red currants are ripe, and both girls know how to pick them—Ingrid conscientiously placing most of hers in the bowl, and Iris with great concentration and two tiny fingers. The herbs—parsley, dill, mint, sage, basil—are ready to be pinched back and harvested. There are flowers, and Ingrid and I clip a little bouquet for the table: coneflowers, amaranth, lavender.
It’s hot out, but not too hot to run. There’ve been warm, breezy days, and no rain since I can remember, but lots of help watering the garden, and lots of time in the wading pool in the backyard and the big pool at the park.
Iris’s hair is a couple of inches long, and in the humidity it whips into ringlets. She is intrepid, standing on the seat of the child-sized rocking chair, holding the back with one hand and rocking it, brave and strong as a tiny cowgirl. Everywhere, she looks for things to climb. She is becoming lean and uncontainable.
Ingrid is mysterious as ever, but affection and joy rise up. At the park, she throws off her shoes before I’ve even set down our bag and wades to the middle of the pool. Look at me, Mama! Look at me! She makes a bed for the two of us on the couch and asks me to lie with her under the blanket and read Shel Silverstein poems. She hugs me—for the first time, I realize, in ages—with arms that suddenly seem so long.
Our CSA delivers strawberries—pints of them that keep coming: one, two, three, four, five. And heaps of salad greens, piles of chard, and handfuls of sweet peas. Ingrid helps me make shortcake biscuits. We eat dinner outside.
We end the days, all of us, covered with the evidence. Sand inside diapers and undies and under my watch band; fingers and faces stained with berry juice; arms and legs and cheeks mosquito-bitten and smeared with dirt; the knees of tiny pairs of pants filthy and scraped; sweat—mine and theirs—everywhere.
For the first time in a long time, I wish this could last forever.