Feels good outside. I wasn’t awash in sweat before beginning my run this morning, a nice reprieve from summer beatings.

My nephew is nearing the home stretch after months of cancer treatment. This is a second cancer, different from a recurrence. He’s recovering from surgery with four more rounds of chemo to go. Everything falls to the periphery when a loved one is very sick, but things are looking up.

I made the mistake of assuming books might be a good distraction. Chemo does a number not just on the body but the ability to concentrate. Ditto for his sleepless loved ones. Short stuff is better.

Along with shorter runs and shorter hikes due to a mostly toasty summer, I’m appreciating shorter yoga classes (Yoga with Adriene) and shorter books, movies and shows. Even a short tree is getting love and water and just the right amount of sunshine.

My dad gave me a bonsai tree in May and it’s still alive. At some point when I was in high school, someone got it into the family’s head that I LOVE bonsai trees. And so all my life I’ve been given bonsai trees, kits with planters and tiny scissors to shape my own bonsai masterpiece and many books. My trees all died until this one. It comes with me when we leave town, along with our pots of bell peppers, mint and basil. It’s a full car with little room for the must-haves: hiking boots, running shoes and camping equipment. And bear spray, of course.

Not at all related, but I have a long list of summery recipes bookmarked in cookbooks and on my laptop. Aspirational cooking. They all have too many steps or cram 10 steps into one. Aside from one divine batch of kale pesto, this summer’s cooking is almost nonexistent. My niece noticed – All you eat is tomatoes? Not quite, but good tomatoes are the star of every meal. A highlight of my summer was picking warm cherry tomatoes with my little buddies. Only a few made it into the salad.

We also finally got to watch the Perseid meteor shower together. Raj and I usually go camping when the shower is at its peak, forgetting shaded campsites, while lovely by day, obscure the night sky. We end up just seeing what we can through scraps of sky, half distracted by every snapping twig in the woods. Not this year. This year we all laid on lounge chairs in my sister’s fenced backyard in the Poconos with a wide open sky on display and a thermos of hot cocoa to keep us awake. The girls were sleepy and impatient but they got a kick seeing Mars and went all giddy when they caught their first meteor.

My nephew is home. We’re not visiting because his immune system is too vulnerable, but he’s on my mind all the time. He’s the wish I make on shooting stars, when we drive over railroad tracks and when a lady bug landed on my finger. Hoping for no more cancer beats the rhyme we used to sing: Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are alone. Superstitious habits won’t destroy cancer, but like my Grandma said when she gave us all Jesus pillows, it can’t hurt.

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