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path042013Last week, I brought home 5 flats of vinca major, a couple of sweet-scented viburnum shrubs, a butterfly bush, an assortment of herbs – mint, oregano, rosemary, thymes and sage – and bags of soil prep. Keith helped with the heavy lifting – two truckloads – and Freya and Heathcliff kept watch and frolicked. “Are you having fun?” Keith asked knowing full well what my answering grin meant.

This spring will bring more trips to the Ivy Nursery in Charlottesville, more questions for the very patient and knowledgeable specialist Joanne and more research as I tackle erosion and growing patterns in our mountain climate zone and sunlight/shade locations.

I don’t play. My mother used to say the same thing about my father: “Your father doesn’t know how to play.” But he did. He kicked balls for us, took us swimming and swam himself – and I think he enjoyed it. He gave us “bird rides” and took us hiking, up West Rock and Sleeping Giant in New Haven and Mt. Katahdin in Maine. As a family, we played badminton and croquet – wickedly competitive, or so we made them out to be – and sometimes water fights.

After my parents entered the double-income, no kids at home stage of life, they went out to eat more often and had season’s tickets to the Long Wharf Theater. But more than that, my father pursued his curiosity through outside projects and reading – and so do I.

In my writing life, I’ve decided to set my manuscript aside for the time being. I need to learn how to play with structure, characters and dialog. Right now, I’m reading Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club along with the usual periodicals and blogs to steal some ideas. And Keith suggested that I write about our encounter with a bat in our bedroom a few years ago – a nude shower scene worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. I can’t wait to play with that!

How do you play?

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