Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's my birthday! No use beating around the bush about it. But it does always kind of spring up on me. I guess that's what happens when your birthday is near the beginning of the month. Oh, it's March! Already? What happened to February? Whoa, hey, it's my birthday! And suddenly I'm older.

And wouldn't that be odd? If you just aged a year in a day, instead of gradually over the course of time? Then there would be no hiding it at all, and an entertainment for everyone else. Oh, look at that poor sap. Must be his birthday today. He looks at least a year older than yesterday.

I'm 38, in case you were wondering. 38. 38! Ah, well. I guess I feel about 38. Actually, now that I think about it, I feel more like 36, but I always was slower to mature. In any case, it's good to be 38. It doesn't really bother me. I'm in better shape than ever, ran three marathons in the past nine months, the weather's good, and I'm finally getting some plants repotted.

Every year I do it. The cold passes and you look out to see all the plants faded and stuffed, their roots clearly strangling themselves in undersized containers. The leaves have gone yellow from too much rain. The buds of spring flowers are stunted from lack of fertilizer. So I re-pot.

No one was making me stay, so I ditched work early yesterday and went to Lowe's. I noticed they had finally got the water plants in so I got some of those for the pond. And then I got a new lime tree to replace the one I killed by having too much clay in the bottom of the pot. (Poor drainage contributed to an iron deficiency, I wager. Sad thing finally just gave up and quit growing.) Also got a nice orange Freesia and a few others. Went home and continued the repotting, busting my hump out back of my house instead of someone else's. That's the way it is. I complain all week about how tired I am, then spend the weekend digging holes and pushing wheelbarrows.

But I feel fit! And I'm beginning to get a tan, so that's nice. My hair is still turning gray, but I think the hairline has stopped its receding. I'm 38!

These are the happy years, I'm sure, the ones that just fly by. The ones where the kids grow like weeds and need repotting daily. You spend so much time with your hands thick in the soil of life that you barely notice the seasons changing. If life has its seasons, 38 is midsummer, with the children's laughter like the summer sun and your slightly graying hair like dry meadow grass missing the spring rains. The earth begins to crack in midsummer, but you don't notice -you're going full bore through life raising a family, building a home, running a business, getting things done. Everything's growing. Harvest is months away to worry about.

Being a kid is a magical time, with the curiosity of springtime and its new growth, bursts of life, and the ever-changing mood of weather, but being a 38-year-old adult is better than being a kid, at least, that's what I'm teaching mine. (If it's not, then what have they got to look forward to?) Adulthood brings freedom, at long last. Unrestrained, unhindered freedom! Independence from others deciding your fate! The full power of self-determination! Oh sure, all the old obligations are still around, but somehow in adulthood, there is joy found in fulfilling them. Freedom is what kids long for all Spring, but will only arrive come Summer.