While a daunting task, I finally managed a small measure of dexterity with my non-dominant left hand. Unlike Dick and our younger daughter, Amanda, both of whom are somewhat ambidextrous, I am fixedly and obstinately right handed. My left hand’s primary purpose has always been to steady whatever object my right hand is working on.

Two weeks ago, I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand to relieve the discomfort I’ve put up with for way too many years. The surgery was brief and painless, and the incision, while a bother to keep dry, was also free of pain.

Fortunately, the fingers of my right hand remained flexible throughout the healing process. I continued to eat with my dominant hand and write with it — albeit the writing was difficult to read some days. But my handwriting has always bordered on being indecipherable. The stitched-up palm made it only a little worse.

Putting up with those small inconveniences will prove well worth the effort. Immediately after the surgery the almost-chronic pain in my right hand disappeared. I look forward to hours of pain-free weeding, writing, swimming and even of sleeping.

For a number of years, I’ve slept with a brace on my right hand. Now that the pain is gone the brace is, too. Dick is no longer in danger of being bonked on the head by a steel plate if I turn over suddenly during the night.

Though I haven’t been able to garden for the last couple of weeks, the beds are not suffering.

Two of my grandsons whose summer jobs disappeared due to the pandemic have been eager for work. Their strong young bodies accomplish more in a few hours than I manage in a full day, even when both my hands are functional.

As a result of their labor, the hilltop once more looks civilized. Daylilies, zinnias, cleome, hollyhocks and marigolds are blooming in weed-free beds. The young men have pulled up dead poppies and grass, leaving room for Mexican sunflowers to spring up from seeds last year’s sunflowers deposited on the fertile ground.

The herb bed looks better than it has in some time. Grass, clover and poppies were hiding sage, basil, thyme, chives and even the tall rosemary. I can gather herbs without feeling I’ve battled my way through a jungle.

English ivy that was climbing the house foundation and reaching its tentacles toward the siding has been cut back. The boys cleared ivy out of the boxwoods near the screened porch and pruned back boxwoods. Now we have a view out and pleasant breezes in while we eat our summer meals.

The boys and I have pulled up the spent pea vines (we had a bumper crop of peas, thanks to the lingering cool weather), cleaned new furrows and planted okra. Broccoli, spinach and lettuce are nearing the end of production. In a week or two we’ll remove those plants and sow late beans. How strange it seems, with the sun at its peak, the days at their longest, to be thinking about crops for early fall.

Such is life in the garden — hands are busy with today’s chores as the mind plans ahead.

I could go on and on about the good work that has been done around the hilltop. Dick, who is strictly an I-can-do-it-myself man, has called upon the boys to help him a few times. An extra body to steer his burned-out diesel tractor to the workshop, while he towed with his working tractor, has him set for a major project of rebuilding the diesel.

I’m hopeful he’ll let the boys do some of the running to the storage shed, several hundred yards away from the workshop, and fetching whatever is needed. The grandsons may even pick up some mechanical skills along the way.

Needless to say, it’s more than the labor of our grandsons that we’re enjoying. After months of isolation, Dick and I are delighted to have other humans on our hilltop. When those humans are a part of the folks we most dearly love, the delight is magnified.

The grandsons and the two of us aren’t exchanging hugs, social distancing being a fact of life during this pandemic, but we are sharing conversations and smiles and, most importantly, love. Minor surgery has wrought major benefits.

Connie Green grew up in Oak Ridge and is a poet, novelist and writing instructor. To contact her, visit her website at www.conniejordangreen.com.