July 27, 2008
the ivy which had hid my princely trunk

I’m discovering that gardening is more controversial than I realized. Who knew? In my ignorance, I thought gardening was all about the soil: either an old-fashioned love of tilling or a nouveau hippy be-in with Gaia. There are so many levels and opinions…it’s like saying, “I just started eating last week,” and hearing about the different foods I should be serving, eating and avoiding.

My vines are particularly contentious. The world seems to be evenly divided into those who think ivy is cool and those who have taken it off a house and therefore shudder at the very word. Nobody seems to take issue with my trumpet vine (no one will say bad things about hummingbirds in public), but the Boston Ivy provokes glowers from unexpected quarters. I’m fascinated.

The best thing about the past two weeks, other than my garden, has been Blake’s swim lessons. Last year we had him in lessons for a full month, which had an arguable amount of success but at least got him used to the idea of swimming. This winter’s experience with skating lessons was dismal, and I was afraid that his swim lessons would be equally frustrating. My worries were heightened by Blake’s custody schedule, as the first two lessons were under the guidance of the Boy, who never tells me anything if he can help it. I was desperate to know how it was working.

On Wednesday, the first day I took him to the pool, I discovered two surprising things: Blake was alone in his class, and Blake was flourishing under the tutelage of a tall, skinny, black lifeguard named T. And when I say flourishing, understand that before the lessons started, this kid couldn’t be pried out of a lifejacket without screams and panicked clutches. Under T’s watchful eye, Blake used a floatation barbell to kick on his back across the entire pool. While T sat beside him on the stairs, Blake obediently bobbed again and again. As T swam beside him, Blake used a flutter board for ten whole minutes at a time.

T is made of magic. I want him at my table every time I need Blake to try a new vegetable.

Blake and I leave tomorrow for our Planes, Trains & Automobiles summer vacation. This trip was a result of my parents wanting to take Blake to Disneyworld last winter, but having to postpone because of my inconveniently-timed separation. Tomorrow we set off for the Badlands, and from there the mountains and the sea. I have pretty low expectations (it won’t be a Casual Darts tour, for one thing) but I’m sure it will be a good time for Blake. Besides, irony tends to kick in and the trips with the lowest expectations are usually the most surprising and fun. Either that, or I’ll be hitchhiking home after a few days of trying to sleep though all of the snoring. Stay tuned.

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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*