I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like summer.
Summers in Chicago are miserable endeavors (much like winters in Chicago). I would fantasize about lake houses in Wisconsin, about spending long days by the water. But no one I know owns a lake house in Wisconsin. And so I used to sit in my small, humid apartment, the inadequate window air conditioning units rattling so loudly I had to turn them off to watch television. To go outside meant to be in a public space. It meant cement and sticky crowds.
What I am most grateful for this week is my host family’s garden. It is lush and shaded. I sit there to read with a kitten at my feet and a richly green mountain to my right. I have not spent this much time outdoors since the summers of my childhood.
I discovered the kitten’s eyes have changed from gray to brown, a much more suitable color for a tiger-striped kitten, in my opinion.
Kosovo is teeming with life. On hikes with my host mother, we’ll sometimes stop to sit and rest. When I peer at the ground, every inch is crawling with bugs.
Bugs are everywhere. Our windows don’t have screens. Flies swarm. Ants scatter across our kitchen counter. I crush daddylonglegs in my bedroom, only to find that new ones have taken their places in the morning. Moths tuck themselves into the slats of my window blinds. A dead wasp lies upturned in my doorway. I keep forgetting to dispose of its body.
The vegetables I eat are organic, but they were not purchased at the expensive grocery store, the one I used to go to only on rare occasions. The vegetables I eat were plucked from the garden where I sit every afternoon, and read.
I am reading All the Light We Cannot See. I have not read such a gorgeously written book since The Goldfinch. The story is about a blind French girl and a German soldier set during World War Two. I’ve been recommending it to my loved ones. The other night, I recommended it to my grandfather (he usually reads what I tell him to).
This week, I am grateful for the deep quiet I find in a shaded garden. I am grateful for a warm kitten who purrs in my lap. I am grateful to find moments of contentedness during a time in my life when change feels constant and unrelenting.
May you find your own quiet this weekend.