Came across this downed oak on a walk in the woods this afternoon. The hurricane blasted quite a few healthy, innocent bystander trees, but in this one you can see the hidden activity that contributed to its fall. It was beautiful to see, sculptural in its ruin, heart exposed, story told.
It’s hard not to feel like an imposter shooting 3D targets with primarily bowhunters. Their consistent accuracy looks so fluid and effortless. The feeling doesn’t make it any less fun, though.
Sometimes, I don’t even know what I mean to say until I see the picture. The real world is hazy and bright, overexposed, but reflections in the water show what is. At that particular moment.
I forgot I even took this photo. It was in the construction zone of the hospital where Mr Speed had a minor repair back in October. On Halloween day, actually. It is somewhat odd to see people in scrubs and costumes, going about their hospital business.
Moths beat patterns against the light of the window. I try to explain the title of this post to Mr. Speed (pictured) and conflate X and Sonic Youth. Where is my mind? Nothing is explained. We talk at length, in the dark of the front porch. The night air is mild, with astonishingly few biting insects. Lula looms behind us, a hundred-pound presence poised to … do dog things. Part of the family. The cats range in and out of focus, close, and then, off. It is a perfect moment. The stars, trees silhouetted, all the projects and the comforts of the home directly behind us. Don’t forget what is important, why you are here.
Dear Rhode Island Summer,
I hate you.
Never mind that when you decide it’s time to grow things you do so with a greenhouse vengeance, all unrelenting heat and humidity that plants crave and I wilt in. You try to appease me with ridiculously dramatic thunderstorms that thrill my soul, but the price of admission is too high. Yes, I can see the tomatoes growing, but it’s too horrible to go out and defend their honor, picking the hideous bugs and grubs and caterpillars that appear like harpies, to devour or torment that which I would harvest.
I long for tolerance, to acclimate, but each summer is a fresh new hell.
Sure, I can remember swimming, body surfing, blissfully playing in the waves of a warm ocean, in the evening, with the sun setting in the wrong direction, but that comes later on, after I am broken by the months of high temperatures and air so devoid of available oxygen that I live totally indoors, air conditioned loudly to a freakishly unnatural cold.
The ratio of good to awful is way, way off.
I am aware that I am tainted, having known that climate can be another way. But I cannot un-know it. And I am really, really hard-pressed to rise to the occasion of fully functional productivity when you are summer. Because you suck.
Your winters I love. Will even miss, when I am no longer subjected to that spectrum of tantrums you call weather. Your Fall? Over-rated. A blessed relief that summer is over, and a month or two before the winter heating bills kick in. Tree leaves turning brilliant colors? Very pretty, but not worth living through summer. Spring? A marathon for those of us foolish and forgetful enough to garden, to get ready for the unbearable gauntlet of summer.
I am the stranger in a strange land. So much beauty, but bugs will bite you, hard, to within a millimeter of your itch tolerance if you think you can go outside and enjoy it.
I like fireflies, magic incarnate. They are worth being eaten alive by mosquitoes to observe, on a blanket on the lawn with your one true love. Also tequila or fine champagne helps.
I think about the people who have lived in these woods before me, before central air conditioning and tequila and fine champagne. I admire them! But also, they didn’t know there was any other way to live. I assume they had a larger perspective — one that, after four years here, still eludes me.
I want out.
But still, it is green, and greening. May’s color.
So of course, I didn’t take any photos during the party. I did wander around this morning a bit, picking up dead balloons and bottle caps, looking for a picture that could say it all. The magic wand in the kiddy pool comes the closest.
This is a good summary as well.
And this foil hat remnant, apt commentary.
This started out to be a simple post about how the weather changed, and I got to cut some of the first flowers that the thunderstorms flattened. There had been a week of evil weather — warm, 98 percent humidity, suffocating fog — that finally resolved into gusting winds, thunder, lightning and full-on rain.
The downpours — and it took several —cleared the air and drenched the ground, and the gathering of flowers that would have otherwise been mushed felt like a just reward for enduring this oppressive climate. I rinsed the mud off and put them in a vase on the woodstove in the living room. They were so cheerful it seemed significant enough to document with a few photos.
When I looked at the pictures a few days later, my first response was: this looks like the room of a crazy person. I don’t know why I thought this. Then I thought: this needs an infographic. Because every single object has a history, tells a story, and all are meaningful. There are the letter “N”s, gifts from my beloved husband; the blown glass pear from my baby girl; a lime-colored enameled rock Jane brought back from India? or London; the beaded bird from Suz; a mermaid bottle opener from Claudia; the pre-production supermaster mold of a popular doll from the ‘80s, the really heavy slab of granite Mr Speed carried out from a quarry we discovered on a walk…
But this is about the daffodils. The flowers are beautiful, worthy enough of focus. And yet, looking at them in the context of an object in a setting, well, I see how important stories are. I see the slab of granite and I remember the walk, the big striped feather we found, the hidden quarry, the sense of adventure and exploration, and the fortitude of my husband carrying back a ridiculously heavy rock because I said I liked it. Mementos. Reminders. Bits and pieces of our lives, kept and displayed, because of the stories they hold.
That day, as I ate my lunch in the break room, my living room, I was looking at the daffodils, enjoying their pure expression of yellow, their pleasant, heady scent, the fact that the weather had changed to something glorious. Looking at the photograph, I notice all the objects sort of equally, each one a little doorway to a another time and place. I feel a bit like a Myna gathering shinies, or one of those bowerbirds that decorates with only blue-colored items. Sometimes, all these things I’ve gathered and carry with me feel like a burden, especially when it comes time to move. But today, they make me happy.