For the past month and a half, the cruelest joke of my husband’s existence has been a giant orange tree in our backyard that is so tall its fruit is virtually impossible to pick. None of the branches hang low enough for even his long arms to reach them from atop a ladder, and when the fruit finally drops it falls such a long distance that its skin splits open upon impact and becomes instant ant bait. We have been so preoccupied with other house tasks since our move-in day, which has meant putting my love’s quest for fresh oranges on hold for a while. However, I have not forgotten about this quest (if for no other reason than that he hasn’t let me), and each day I’ve caught my husband staring longingly out the window and sighing with the complete non-sequitur of “Such a shame, isn’t it?” This weekend he finally decided enough was enough, declared a holiday from home improvements, and returned from the hardware store with a giant fruit picker in place of the paint can he went there for. I then proceeded to watch him roam our yard with this wonky, clawed contraption, and couldn’t help marveling at the giant, devious grin that remained plastered across his face throughout his mission.
Seeing the simple yet scheming joy this brought my husband made me feel quirkily domesticated – in fact, I’m pretty sure John Cheever once wrote a short story about our lives. You know the one — about the wife who sat in a lawn chair slathering herself with sunscreen while her husband repelled off ledges in search of oranges, which later would become a key ingredient in the couple’s blue-ribbon-winning Old Fashionds at an alcoholic county fair…Not so long ago, this Cheeveresque quality to our off hours would have disturbed me to no end – after all, my 20-something self detested backyards and thought weekends were solely for partying. But, now that I’m a tad older and work longer hours, I realize how ill-fitted the “work hard/play hard” model has always been for me. This is to say: I now know that the quality of our personal lives cannot be measured in guest books signed or extreme sports tackled – rather, a more accurate measurement is the way we allow ourselves to love, be loved, and indulge in whatever ridiculous creature comforts make us feel like children again. These simple and mundane creature comforts may seem staid through the eyes of some, but I think they’re actually an important part of the texture of our human lives…The proverbial “they” are always saying “it’s the little things” after all, and – judging by the way zinc oxide, wide-brimmed hats, and citrus-filled days felt this weekend – I’m inclined to agree. Leave a comment.