We’re in the heat of the summer, now. From my car on 183 as I drive to Kent I see the soft-colored chicory already in bloom, tiger lilies, a smattering of some kind of small yellow flower I don’t recognize — a kind of vetch, maybe. Bright finches flutter above patches of thistle that’s gone to seed, feasting. But it is dry here even though nobody’s talking drought yet. Bone-dry when you dig down in the garden beds. Hot dust comes up with the hand shovel and settles on my sweaty arms. Thunderstorms miss us, skirting north or south. I’m tanner than I’ve been in a long time: brown hands, and the hard lines of a tank-top pattern across my shoulders and back.

Alone in the garden in the heat I feel I’m beating something, emerging victorious from a test of will or strength or endurance. As I work, weeding or watering or harvesting peas, I know I’m doing what’s necessary. This is a life nobody imagined for me. You would have thought I would turn away from the work, unwilling to kneel bare-legged in the hot dirt and pull up thistle even though its prickles penetrate the garden gloves. I’m stronger than you think. I’m out there with the garter snakes, the bunnies, ladybugs, toads, honeybees. The mama deer and her warm spotted baby.

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