I hope everyone is having a good weekend. It’s the last for June 2020, which means this year is nearly half over. I know it has felt like a long one already, and I’m nervous about what the last half of 2020 will bring. I have found that even a brief Weekend Thoughts post has a healthy effect on me, so here I am, even though I’ve never written one of these on a Sunday. I think that is largely because for me Sunday is already in the shadow of the upcoming work week. But maybe by writing a few of these on a Sunday I can reclaim Sunday as part of the weekend proper!
My Sons’ Reading
This morning, Holland, my son who is the same age as The Mookse and the Gripes, came to show me he’d finished The Hunger Games. He’s always loved reading, but I was surprised by how quickly he dove in and finished this book. If I needed to find him over the last few days I could usually look on our porch where he was sitting to read. I’m excited to see how his reading life develops.
Three of our boys love to read, but our oldest, as I may have mentioned before, really doesn’t like to sit and read on his own. He’ll do it if we’re all doing it, and I think he likes it, but it’s rarely an activity he chooses for himself. In fact, I haven’t noticed him doing it since he read the Wayside School books a few years ago. Because of this, I set up a reading list with them and they get prizes for each book they finish. The three youngest have all gotten prizes . . . several! But the oldest is still rather reluctant. I don’t want to force him to read, since I think that might ruin his relationship with books, so I’m still I the market for some ideas here.
On Friday I got an e-galley of Marilynne Robinson’s forthcoming novel Jack. I started it late Friday night, and again last night read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I love Robinson’s books, and this is the fourth book in her series set in Gilead, Iowa. Gilead itself will likely always be my favorite. I loved the voice, and I loved the story. I thought Home was very good. Lila has continued to haunt me, and I have realized that I love it and value it nearly as much as Gilead itself. And now here we have Jack. I am about a quarter of the way through it, but it’s quite different in structure and tone, but I still feel Robinson’s strength and generosity of spirit that makes way for difficulty and pain. I’m so glad we have this new book coming that will help us see more of Jack Boughton, the source of so much pain in the prior novels.
I think once I’m done with Jack I will go back and reread Gilead. Though it’s been eleven years since I read the book, I still think of several passages all the time. It’s truly one of the books that has shaped my worldview.
Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable — which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us.
If you have yet to visit Gilead, Iowa, with Marilynne Robinson, I highly recommend it.
In exciting news, we’ve been enjoying food from our garden! We’ve had peas (though they are now past their time), beets, and lots of lettuce. The beans are blossoming, there are dozens of tomatoes ripening up, and I swear there are thousands of tomatillos. Seriously, I planted two tomatillos plants; I didn’t know they produced so much. I have no idea what we’ll do with so many. Salsa, of course, but that’s a lot of green salsa! Here’s a look at a portion:
The pumpkins are the other plants that have been thriving. We have lots of little pumpkins settling into their own place where they’ll get fat and orange over the next few months.
While I have enjoyed the garden a great deal, the best part is seeing how much the kids are enjoying getting to know it. They don’t like a lot of the food yet (hopefully that will change), but they love going out and tending the growth. Our eight year old is especially invested. Will I get him to feel the joy of a freshly picked tomato in a few days? I don’t know, but if not I’ll enjoy it enough for the both of us!