We open our motel at the beginning of June. It is three weeks later than our usual opening time, which is usually after the frost is gone and before the official Memorial Day start of the season.
When we drive into the parking lot loaded with our stuff, I am taken back by the height of the grass growing on the front lawn. Never, in the fourteen years, we operated the motel has it been left to grow wild like that. I reflect on the image, amused from time to time, of the forest crawling from the back trying to take over the land that over sixty years ago was cleared for the motel.
We unload everything and open the front door with caution and some apprehension. Every year when we return after the seven months of being away we encounter unexpected surprises. Usually, we find water leaks and busted pipes, on occasion wild animals who decided to become guests for the winter. Like the family of raccoons, a mom and six babies, who moved into the ceiling of our bedroom one winter.
Once we assess the damages in our residence, open the windows, and take the tarps off beds and furniture the sense of being back home is somewhat established. We can start with the tedious task of opening the guest rooms and getting them cleaned and ready.
But this year, we have four acres of overgrown grass almost up to my knees, already wearing a crown of seed heads. There's no one in town—we are situated on the main road—who did not witness this stage of neglect. Everywhere we go people nod their heads in disapproval. "We thought you left never to come back," is their unspoken message.
My job is to mow the lawn, so before doing anything, I fire up the mower and go to work. For hours I go back and forth on the overgrown lawn. The first cut has to be high so as not to choke the machine. Then a second cut, somewhat deeper, and still when I inspect the results at the end of the day I am amazed at how little progress I made.
The next morning, I wake to the noise of people talking and the unmistakable zoom of weed whackers. I look outside and see three men working on our lawn. Quickly I dress and go outside to discover Adam, our part-time housekeeper's husband, and two of his buddies. The three of them are working on the lawn. Before noon everything is done.
The new normal or perhaps just neighbors helping neighbors go through tough times created by circumstances out of their control. The way it always was and the way it should be.