"I hope Grammie had a good time," I say, a row of tomatoes nestled in my elbow and lined up along my forearm. I squint at the countertop.
Jane paws the red checkered dishcloth looped on the oven door, dries her hands. "I think she did," she says.
I crouch, lean toward the counter, ease the soft spheres. They thump as they bobble off my arm.
"When she thought we weren't looking," Jane says, "I could see that she was smiling."
"Oh, that's good." I scoot the juicy globes back toward the butcher block, their shiny skin grips the surface.
"I think she was trying to set the boundaries," Jane says, "but I thought the smile was good."
"Huh," I nod. I separate the harvest into colors: red, black, green with pink streaks, yellow.
I replay in my mind the time I gave a friend a green tomato, one just streaked, orangish-pink-perfect. I had cradled six or eight tomatoes for her in the hem of my shirt. The children had orbited, tumbled cherries in between the fist sized fruits. They had tugged my elbow and tap-tapped my shoulder, poked and prodded. How they tried not to interrupt. Then finally, "Are you giving her one of your favorite ones?" broke free.
Favorite. Yes. We give our favorites. Grammie, down in the schoolroom, gives art lessons. I, in the garden, give sun-ripe tomatoes. Along the way, the children trace the exchanges, memorize the details, internalize the green tomato and the smile when no one was looking.
Every moment bears weight, every breath, inertia.
4790. "Mom, should I get my water wings and fly?" Myra asks while we pack for a weekend at the lake.
4791. Rosie's invites us for a weekend with her family.
4792. We all go tubing, skipper across the water, squealing, screaming, even Myra though reluctantly. Joe cruises on the boat.
4793. "I'm only doing it because you are making me," Jack narrates as he boards the tube for the first time this year. He turns to me later, "Some things, I'm really glad when you make me do 'em," he says. "Grandad always helped me know which things were going to be like that," I say. We smile.
4794. I watch the many decades of love play between my parents as we slide across the lake.
4795. Dad and I take our annual end-of-summer run. I soak up his wisdom.
4796. We eat hand-patter-out barbecued cheese burgers and a Mt. Everest of kabobs.
4797. We fellowship with family, a cadre of Christians. Refreshment. Strength. Love. Extended family. Our roots run deep. We marvel at the weaving of our Christian faith through all.
4798. The children work like crazy to finish the same amount of school work in a shorter work week.
4799. Tomato basil bisque with sausage.
4800. A Hanna Anderson dress for Myra out of the blue.
4801. We resume the regular Bible study routine for small group, dig deep with warrior prayer and study.
4802. Grammie starts art lessons for the grandkids.
4803. "Your heart is even whiter than this," Lucy points at the cord on the kitchen mixer. "Yep. Shining," I say. "So bright you have to close your eyes," she says. I nod, her repentance complete after getting in trouble.
4804. The kids write a play. The Enemy Of The Bible: Pride. It stars Nebuchadnezzar and three Hebrew boys.
4805. We go to the fair with dear family friends.
4806. Craig preforms another wedding.
4807. "Jesus, help me not see my schoolwork as a burden," Jane prays. "And Jesus, help me to act like an adult. Amen."
4808. We pick golden plums up on the mountain.
4809.Craig's mom makes us a farm meal: potpie, yellow watermelon, blackberry cobbler. Great-grammie joins us with Aunt Carole visiting from Montana.
4810. "Mom, I need a wet wipe," Myra calls, "'Cause Joe eated all of Lucy's tomatoes, and it getted all over him's clothes." She blinks. "It made a big mess of tomato juice."
4811. We rile the house looking for at least one of Joey's sippers and finally find two. We crisscross apologies and settle into their hammock strength.
4812. All the children pray for Lucy's eye appointment to go well tomorrow, the solidarity of the moment like a smooth stone in my pocket.
4813. I observe my parents, Craig's parents, marriages woven through the splendid and the heartbreaking, a rendering of joy. I pray for that kind of solidarity to bear us up, carry us on wings. To Jesus be the glory.