On Monday, we had a big storm in Vermont. My Uncle called from Massachusetts because apparently we’d been mentioned in the severe weather warning. This little town doesn’t get on the news very often.
It was also one day after the first seeds germinated in my experimental little garden, and they were all washed away. Some baked flat onto the tarmac. This afternoon I was staring bleakly at the wreckage when the neighbor kid came by. We chatted for awhile, and I applauded the new tricks he’d learned on his bike. He brought over a box of paper twist firecrackers and we threw them at each others’ feet and laughed.
The last thing he brought over was a checkers set, and he and I sat out on the grass to play. We both talked a lot of trash while laying the pieces out, and then I started kicking his ass. Nothing too terrible, but definitely not letting him win. He responded by changing all the rules, so he could start kicking mine. Checkers was far more fun his way, where points were scored according to sassiness of tone or making the other person laugh. At one point there were residents of three houses standing outside, chatting until it was time for dinner.
This interaction could have been framed as a spin on negative capability, playful communities, or used to illustrate that subversive way play has of coming in the side door and throwing glitter around. After having felt depressed about my little plant-pocalypse though, I most appreciated it as a burst of fun in my day, and delighted in its surprise. Our game reminded me that this is the point of summer, to be outside and laughing in the warm shade.