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August Sunday – the sultry life of retirees

Day after day, Bob and I harvest, cook, mow, trim, and weed together. This is what dual retirement looks like.

We are into the lazy days of summer now which are pleasingly hypnotic, as opposed to the tongue-lolling dog days of July. By mid-afternoon, my steps have slowed. I lurch towards the fig, zombie-like, in search of fruit that’s ripened since our brisk morning harvest. I pull the branches down with an aluminum rod and snap off the drooping figs, sticky with sugar sap.

The retirees

Day after day, Bob and I harvest, cook, mow, trim, and weed together. This is what our dual retirement looks like: morning workouts, daily trips to the garden, languid afternoons, dinner on the back porch, an hour of Roku entertainment, showers in our magnificent new bathroom, and then to bed with our books.

Sunday morning fig harvest

It is a gorgeous day—the humidity is way down to 55—but by 11:00, my thoughts about going for a walk have evaporated. The A/C powered into our Sunday morning silence at 7:30, and Bob and I have already pulled in two and a half pounds of figs. We also brought in a respectable number of cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes.

I’m sitting on the back porch with my pink notebook, thinking of all the things I don’t want to do. I keep telling myself, “You don’t have to do anything; it’s Sunday,” and, “You’re retired! Go lay in the hammock.”

At dinner last night, when I announced, “Tomorrow’s my day off,” Bob rocked back in his chair and said, “Sure.”

“Just you wait and see,” I said.

So, I will sit and write until I begin to sweat, and then I will do some yoga, roast the pimentos and skin and deseed the tomatoes. I will kill some fire ants underneath our chestnut tree with the hot tomato water. These are easy things, everyday things, like brushing my teeth. Not at all a Sunday Day Off Violation.

What I won’t do, is wash the bedroom windows, even though I saw their cloudiness when I opened the blinds before climbing back into bed this morning. My Suzy Homemaker voice whispered, But these are the last ones—you’ve done all the others—and you have all day.

Today I will resist that bad little voice. Today I will play, whatever that looks like. I’ve got something to prove. I’ll lay in the hammock and talk on the phone. I may take out my sketch pad or read another chapter of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

Bob busies himself with the orchids, then comes outside to say hello. I smile up from my notebook scribbles, hoping he’s proud of me for sitting here under the shade of the crepe myrtle in my cotton shift this far into the day. He harvests sweet pears, makes himself something to eat, washes dishes, plays some Wingspan, then does some reading. Later, he will sugar the pickles that he soaked in vinegar overnight and air fry a pound of teriyaki tofu.

Sunday afternoon fig

When the temperature reaches 85°, I retreat inside to do tomatoes and peppers. I return to my rocking chair an hour later with soup and cheese toast. I admire the neon light shining through the myrtle leaves and the crisp, dark green of the forest fringe beyond. I put down my bowl and plate and stare at a Ruby Throat on his perch, guarding the hummingbird feeder. Time is paralyzed, swollen and ripe, hanging like a fat, red fig.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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