In a perfect world there would be more time. Maine tomatoes would ripen before the Saturday afternoons got chilly, and there would be time to harvest and use or preserve every soft, warm, red fruit in decent weather before things get ahead of us.

We the well-meaning might be able to give our tomatoes the loving cultivation they deserve, and keep them healthy and plump on the vine until they become spaghetti sauce, but if we attend so well to our agriculture there may not be time to also clean out the barn (garage, shop, shed, basement…). The understanding is that our outbuildings are exemplars of disorder and confusion which, for purely psychological purposes, we purpose to overcome. Out, we insist, should go a few hundred nearly empty cardboard boxes, some busted furniture, the dried-up paint, the defunct equipment we relentlessly safeguard on account of one salvageable part. A few trips to the dump and we might enjoy the satisfaction of elbow room which, for some reason, we acknowledge as pleasing.

But if we actually did all this cleaning out, we likely wouldn’t have time to spend afternoons preparing for that 10K charity run or that Mt. Washington hike or that Machu Picchu trip or some other scheduled effort planned so long ago. These boot-camp-like recreations (what are we thinking?) tend to want an hour every day for weeks ahead of time, jogging or climbing, stair-running or burning up the local trails, in hopes of legs of steel. Somehow, there is always a shortage of time for all that working out — particularly if we intend to start an orchard.

Everybody wants an orchard. Some friends buy nursery stock, baby apple trees for the backyard, King David and Honeycrisp; others begin exhaustive research or hunt up the ancestors and the botanists available for questions, or take out library books about grafting or hover over websites. Some consider the needs of tangled old trees on the perimeter — neglected, wormy, and unappreciated. Some look to the preservation of heritage apples, or choose varieties for their names, or have discovered that their property or their neighborhood had been an orchard years ago and are encouraged by the history. One particular idiot is trying to grow a lime tree. All this takes time, which is time they cannot spend on other things, such as learning how to speak Spanish.

Yeah, there’s that Machu Picchu trip coming up, Marcia and Emily; have you been studying? Maine is one of the few places in the country where one doesn’t find Spanish all around — helpful at the corner store, on the public transportation, with the next-door neighbor — so for the tourist bound for Peru from such a northern state as ours, a concerted effort must be made. There was a conversation earlier this summer about whether it might be considered a moral imperative, should one see oneself as a certain type of progressive activist, or at least a respectable act of defiance against institutional bullying to study Spanish. But that sort of high-minded improvement brings with it no deadline, no priority over the scant free time, whereas getting ready to order breakfast in the Andes just might turn the screws. The problem with all that studying is, it really cuts into the time for knitting.

Some people I know (well, one person I know) can knit complicated and ornate patterns, with accuracy and finesse, while standing in snow, hail, or Force 8 gale, maintaining with an eagle-eye the happiness and safety of a half-dozen toddlers while simultaneously removing a splinter, planning supper, and watching out for things like unwanted brown-tail moth caterpillars, nosebleeds, and the fire department. Most of us poor slobs have to resort to bright light, reading glasses, Post-it Notes and a minimum of distraction. Most of us, if we are really going to get a pile of socks or mittens done for the gang before Christmas, had better get a firm grip on our leisure time. Autumn is going to fly by, and next thing we know it’ll be December and we’ll have about a sock and a quarter done, and it’ll be “some assembly required” again this year.

The trouble with all that knitting is it takes precious time away from making pickles, and cleaning out the creepy cavern under the kitchen sink, and painting the trim before it rots off, and deleting the roughly thousand photographs clogging up the iPhone, and reading these five hundred books around here.

It’s a nice day. I should go for a relaxing walk in the sun; surely any vegetables can wait and Christmas is a long way off. There is no need for me to walk fast, either, or to carry a heavy pack. I am not one of those lucky friends going to Machu Picchu.