School is winding down and small children are staring out the windows at freedom and counting the days until the heavy hand of grammar and spelling will be lifted from their backs. My sandy-haired daughter dove into the pool on Memorial Day and has been amphibious ever since. She loves swimming and has to be extracted after four or five hours, before she turns prunish, and since the pool is a public pool, not our own sensible people in Minnesota don't own swimming pools, any more than people in Tucson build backyard hockey rinks this requires an adult to spend those hours sitting under an umbrella, reading a book and trying not to look at a clock.
I don't do pool duty because the sorts of books I read aren't suitable for poolside. You want a novel in which slim young women rising in the world meet over margaritas to discuss the various men who have pitched themselves at the women's feet, and that is not my cup of tea. I am reading Ralph Waldo Emerson, who is so dense you can only read a few sentences at a time and then you must get up and take a walk, which doesn't make for good supervision.
Emerson would get a kick out of watching my kid swim. He was always recommending boldness and passion he said, "Give all to love, obey thy heart" and he said, "Always do what you are afraid to do" and there she is, doing it, practicing the butterfly, green goggles up and down, arms flashing, cleaving the water, back and forth.
This is what a child does for us shows us joy in action and watching her in the water, I have to ask myself, what do I love as much? Well (ahem), there is that, of course. And there is our new screened porch with a view of the Mississippi valley. And there are the galley proofs of a new book spread out on the dining room table the cake is baked and now I get to put on the frosting. When it's done, I have in mind to get in a car and drive west and have three weeks, unscheduled, an enormous luxury mostly reserved for playboys and hoboes but briefly available to you and me.