Vashon Islanders and mayflies have something in common. When bestowed with one warmish sunny day, we emerge from our dens (and ponds, respectively) to consume the day as if it were our last. Unfortunate for mayflies, it is, but for islanders, we will live (in most cases and in spite of ourselves) to see another solar-charged day. And until that happens, we will nurse our self-inflicted injuries under the cover of clouds, and tend to our skinned knees, thrown backs, sunburned schnozes, nettle-stung ankles, and bramble-scratched brows. But make no mistake; we will not give up on the day until the final waning ray of sun retires well below the Olympics. Oh, and should a sunny day occur on the weekend, Lord have mercy.
For me, my sunny day activities begin post bird chirps, but prior to any buzz from the beehive. Primed with some high-octane joe, I grab pen and paper like a dutiful school boy with all the right answers, and begin drafting my plans for the day. While my to-do list may spill over to the next page, depending on diagrams and doodles, my pronounced and projected accomplishments are actually tempered a wee bit these days. Awareness is a gift with age, and my inner voice of reason is curiously spot-on, so I listen.
Around the age of fifty, my body put in a personal request for the inclusion of nap time on my to-do list. It just appeared one day, after my “make lunch” entry. My mind seconded the motion, and reran several post-traumatic home-improvement flashbacks for good measure and to drive the point home. Such epiphanies along with age, personal reflection, achy joints and a high medical insurance deductible rouse several important realizations: chainsaws are for men who have never worn Topsiders, ladders are for lads with more cartilage than bones, and staple gun usage should fall under the guidelines of the Brady Bill. There is one machine that I’ve managed to remain at peace with, my riding mower, and that is thanks to federally-mandated safety standards that call for it to shutdown anytime I’m not on it.
When I make my to-do list, I always ignore the math. Sure… I can weed whack the rockery, roto-till the garden, repair the chicken coop, walk the dogs, plant trees, go to the farmers market, clean the fountain and prune the raspberries, all before making a pie to bring to an evening potluck. If I did tally the time needed for the labors of my day, I’d be too overwhelmed to start a one. So, I say “hello” to denial and plug away like the day and my focus have no end.
Not all tasks are onerous.
Another thing I consider and am prepared for is the inevitable to-do list detour, brought on by drop-ins, broken equipment, the time and space continuum, and my mere status as a mortal. Just last week as I sprang forth from the porch ready to seize the day, I found my weed whacker without string, my tiller DOA, my mower suffering from the vapors, and my post pounder in hiding.
Moments like these make me alter my to-do list to include what others might see as flimsy excuses for tasks, silly fodder to check off as the day progresses. Well, yes that is exactly right. I add things like flush toilet, feed dogs, make ice tea, retrieve mail, and test the hammock. Quantity trumps quality some days, and knowing I got 20 things done fosters a sense of accomplishment, no matter how trite the task. (Yes, I’m a simple man.)
On a recent sunny Saturday, I was reviewing my list of actions items, weeding tools in hand, when I heard the crush of gravel down my drive. A gleaming chariot approached, driver and riders shrouded under the veil of tinted glass. Ultimate driving machine parked, the car doors opened to expose a boisterous crew of friends from Seattle, each carrying some goodie or libation as an offering. My picnic flash mob gushed over the beauty of Vashon, the dreamy ferry ride, and the progress I’ve made on the place. After a round of hearty hugs and hellos, one friend said, “I hope we’re not interrupting anything.” I assured him that the only thing on my to-do list was to enjoy the day, this very sunny day, with friends. And I’m happy to report, that’s just what I did, without incident, injury or a call to 911. As for my to-do list, I folded it, tucked it under my favorite refrigerator magnet, just so I’d know where to find it on our next sunny day, say in July or August.