Uniting Vocation and Avocation in One Sight

“What’s it going to be?”

“What are you working on?”

My neighbors were dying to know why my driveway was piled high with river rocks ranging in size from cantaloupes to watermelons. What was I building?

They probably have considered me a little eccentric ever since I moved in. Right off, I dashed outside to attack my spruce tree with a reciprocating saw I had inherited from my stepfather. The tree’s lower limbs were so thick they blocked the sidewalk. Soon, my neighbors and their dogs could pass by without detouring into the street.

Each spring, as soon as the weather warms, the outdoors sings a siren song that makes it almost impossible for me to concentrate on my writing, which is done on a lovely Mac and gorgeous 24-inch Apple Cinema display. Those are probably the tools I use most.

But I also love what writer Genevieve Villamizar calls “Man Tools”. I’m the proud owner of both a cordless electric drill and a tool belt, both gifts from my husband. When warm weather calls to me, it says just what our moms used to tell us: “For heaven’s sake, go outside and play!”

So there I was, mixing concrete with a favorite tool—a combination weed digger and garden knife—that’s perfect for both mixing and spreading. What I built was a passive fountain, one that catches runoff from a newly-installed gutter that will prevent icicle stalagmites from barricading the car into the garage next winter. In the summer, the gutter will sluice rainfall runoff into my fountain where it will provide a drinking pool for birds and bees.

My neighbors asked what I was “working on” because it looked like labor. But for me, garden work is a joy—a joy akin to what the Forest Conservancy volunteers must feel when they’re out “working” on the trails, or what Steve Wells feels when he’s sweating through a good workout. You can read about both of those labors in these pages.

In his poem Two Tramps in Mud Time, Robert Frost wrote:

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.

May your all summer pursuits feel like labors of love, whether the sun calls you outdoors to work on projects, or just to “play.” Playing is a kind of work too. As Seth Brown reminds us in his Parting Thoughts, it’s the work of being mindful and present so that we don’t miss the miracle of being alive in this beautiful place we call the Roaring Fork Valley.