temp check.

July 14, 2020

We’re at my mom and dad’s. It’s hot here. The sticky, buzzy kind of summer heat that makes the dirt basement of my parents’ house bloom and fill the floor above with an olfactory timestamp: mid-July in this creaky old house by the marsh. Two of my three children are naked. One is making a geyser from a garden hose. There’s a tent being assembled in the backyard and a thunderstorm threatening.

It’s a relief and a privilege to be able to open a screen door and let kids tumble out of it. Our toes are thankful for the quick access to cool grass. Our fingertips are stained purple from farm-stand blueberries. There are chickens to chase and a cousin-made fort in the shady part of the yard.

But there’s no escaping the mucky soup of rage and sorrow that burbles just below the surface. In the morning, my dad reads the newspaper while my mom asks for the headlines and the news is all the same. A deadly virus, a craven response, lives left hanging in the balance of terrible options.

I’ve set myself up to work in four different places today, trying to find the right combination of cool and quiet and working wi-fi. Before I know it, there’s a sweaty head wedged under the crook of my elbow. There are watermelon juice rivulets on dusty bellies and a baby with too-long fingernails digging into the flesh around my ribcage. It’s all so sweet and so maddening and I swear I’ve written only three sentences since the last time there was a child’s head wedged under my armpit.

We fall asleep to the whir of fans, our sheets kicked around our ankles, phantom fireflies still flashing behind our eyelids. Why do they have fire in their butts? Silas is incredulous. I am too, but not about the fireflies. They make perfect sense to me.

How about you?

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  • Reply Natalia July 14, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Poetry and life …thank you Erin for this dose of beauty

  • Reply Sarah July 14, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    I found this piece of writing very beautiful. And your perspective too, always. I’m in the UK so it’s not quite the same but it’s also the same. Every day brings despair and incredulity along with love, joy and gratitude. Thank goodness for babies.

  • Reply Judith Ross July 14, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    So glad that you are there. I hope that you can stay a while. And, yes, the rage and frustration which rages ever hotter when I see the virus numbers for other countries. And why, oh, why , and “if only” …. You are giving your kids a summer, doing the best you can, I hope you can take some time off while there are extra and extra loving hands available to help.

  • Reply Elizabeth July 14, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Erin, your writing is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Reply Milou July 14, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    I think you summed it up perfectly – there are moments of loveliness and grace and they are important to notice and there is rage, hope about the excitement of change (Mondaire Jones for one!), sadness about the local businesses in my neighborhood, and just a big dose of being, well, pretty terrified about the future.

  • Reply Tram July 14, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you. For your words, perspective, honesty.

  • Reply Rita July 14, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    I know that you are an amazing writer Erin since I’ve found your blog, but THIS is what the world needs, this is pure talent and a very unique voice. I really hope you write another book.

  • Reply Elise July 14, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    This is what I needed to read today, thank you for sharing, as always, your words struck a chord with me. Wishing you and yours health and as much happiness as possible during these times!

  • Reply Mackenzie July 14, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    I love the way you write, Erin. That’s all 🙂

  • Reply Erika July 14, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    Glad you’ve found some relief amongst the maddening. Who knew humid air and creaky screen doors could be so healing? I need to survive 19 more days before we make it to the grandparents as well.

  • Reply Lisa July 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    So beautiful as always.

  • Reply Elizabeth July 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    Gorgeous words for a hideous moment. Thank you.

  • Reply Terry July 14, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply Laura July 14, 2020 at 9:03 pm


  • Reply Hannah July 14, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    Probably my new favorite post. Like a diary entry almost. ♡ So pretty.

  • Reply rebecca July 14, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Your words are beautiful. An brief and beautiful antidote. The fire in their butts indeed. Thank you.

  • Reply Lindy July 15, 2020 at 12:29 am

    Thrilled you’re there
    Rage and terror for the future.. both unemployed.
    Didn’t have to be this way.
    Relief that Lindsay Graham has stepped forward however mildly.. but it’s too late
    Rage that no unemployment info is released and finally absolute fury at Ivanka for saying.. find something new to do..
    And how does one get thru the next 2 to 3 years …
    PRAY oh PRAY for all our sakes that T followers do truly…

  • Reply cathy July 15, 2020 at 12:33 am

    Erin, you have such a beautiful way with words. I didn’t feel well today, so I was on edge. My current book, though, is Simple Matters, which I’m reading for the umpteenth time, but now, happily, with my own copy, instead of the library’s. Every page is calming. A much-needed distraction from the headlines and the daily dose of cruelty from the people who should be our leaders. Thank you for continuing to do what you do so well.

    • Reply Lindy July 15, 2020 at 6:40 am

      I also held onto this book like a crutch in times of difficulty a while back. Simplicity is a panacea and order and organization is a sure panacea. Something about Erin’s pics are unique.

  • Reply greta July 15, 2020 at 9:38 am

    rage and sorrow. that says it all. i woke up this morning feeling so downhearted but your words have helped. it also helps that i just checked Simple Matters out of the library only yesterday. it looks so calming and lovely. i’m planning on spending some time with it over the next few days and then order my very own copy! thank you for providing a sense of peace and balance.

  • Reply Samantha July 15, 2020 at 9:54 am

    As I wait, in these crazy times full of destruction and potential, for our baby due on the 28th, I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting out on our deck watching the birds at our feeder and in the trees behind our house. We have a sweet crow that visits us most mornings, whom we offer pieces of apple. This creature just showed up one day to check out what we were up to, and decided to keep visiting. This morning our crow friend had (recently?) fledged babies in tow! The young ones did not come down, but called and called in higher pitched voices for their share of the treat. So thats my sweetness for the day. Thank you for sharing your summer sweetness, as well as struggles with us!

  • Reply anna maria July 15, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Your writing is so beautiful, Erin. Love to you & your family <3

  • Reply Holly July 15, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Erin, you write exquisitely. I’m in Los Angeles where my husband and I are also doing our best to maintain stability and a relative amount of cheer for our kids during this catastrophic time. Our only hope is that come November, we’ll be able to turn that hope into a reality and start to heal this country from the cataclysmic events that began 3+ years ago. I pray for the lives of all of our heroic essential and healthcare workers and for the many millions in dire existential need, that our earnest efforts will keep the Black Lives Matter movement blossoming and effecting true change, that adherence to science and integrity will ultimately conquer the insidious virus we continue to fight, and that selfishness and intellectual ignorance will be overcome by those who truly embody what this country is supposed to be about.
    How lovely that you’ve taken your darling children to be with your parents where they can play outside. Hang in there, beautiful girl. I feel blessed to share this earth with you. And thank you for all that you are and do.

  • Reply Beth July 15, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Oh Erin, this is gorgeous. You have captured so much about this moment here. I’m not in your particular shoes, but these particulars unlock the universal. Sending love.

  • Reply Sarah July 15, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Your writing is so beautiful, Erin. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply julie colando July 15, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    truly beautiful writing

  • Reply Susie July 15, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    We got away for two nights camping (in the UK) and it was a balm that this soul desperately needed. This might also be my new favourite RMTL post.

  • Reply Jen July 15, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    You should make your next book just beautiful pieces like these. Thanks for this little bit of Zen.

  • Reply Rachel July 15, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    I feel transported into your world for a rare moment and it is beautiful. Thank you Erin.
    Today in Australia’s Southwest, the skies are grey with flashes of brilliant light, torrents of water streaming down from the heavens, wind howling through the gaps of our home. We’re tucked up in doonas and jumpers and furry purring friends. I feel blessed that we live in this corner of the world where we have not experienced first hand the first wave. Yet, my heart still cries for you, my sisters and brothers on the other side of the globe, living in the thick of it. You have been an inspiration to me for years and I pray for your days to continue to be peppered with moments of hope, wonder, joy and peace. Sending much love from Oz xx

  • Reply Anne-Lise July 15, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    One of my all time favorite posts <3

  • Reply Anne-Lise July 15, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    P.S. What about a children’s book in your future??

  • Reply Anja July 16, 2020 at 6:12 am

    So beautiful written, I can feel it! Love!

  • Reply Amanda Krieger July 16, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    you write in a way that is so specific to you and your july, but somehow resonates with all of us.
    thanks for the temp checks. they feel grounding somehow in this tumultuous time. <3

  • Reply Britt July 17, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Gorgeous post. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Katharine July 17, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Lovely words. Being around family makes such a difference right now — especially when it comes to parents finally being able to get some work done! Glad you’re finding a few moments of peace amidst everything else (and there is so.much.else).

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