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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mumbling about weather and bottom biting manners

Tuesday, Monday's extended shadow across the workweek, and it is dark out this morning. This is the first morning I have noticed this evidence of the post-summer-solstice shortening of the days. Granted, I am an early riser and we are now well established into August, but the first time I notice this sign of seasons passing by is still startling. As little summer as it feels like we have had so far this year, fall would be a mite previous to make too many inroads too early.

But that's just my opinion. Besides, it's not like there is anyone to whom you can lodge such a complaint: "Hello, Seasonal Changes Department? Good! I'm calling to complain. What? Oh, well, specifically that your folks were months late bringing out summer this year (with no additional compensation, I might add!) and now you're far too early starting to slide it right back out in favor of fall! I want to know what you're going to do to make this right!" Umbrage is such a cute waste of wind, isn't it? After all, it is still summer, just ask the flowers:

We are a complaining lot, here in the weather-mild Pacific Northwest. We complain when we get too much rain (frequently) and we complain when it gets hotter than 75° for more than three consecutive days and our homes don't cool down at night. If the skies are grey and low we complain about lost umbrellas and getting wet every time we set foot outside. If the skies are clear and blue we complain about lost sunglasses and having to wear sunscreen. Behind it all, I suspect, lies an acute sense of the weather we expect, a sense borne of being used to generally mild weather with a limited range of temperature swings. We distrust much change in the weather as being abnormal. Maybe we need a PEMCO ad for a Who Changed My Forecast Guy?

Given our druthers, many of us would probably order summer like we order Thai food: "I'll take a serving of the Spicy Summer Curry, one star only, please."

On a totally unrelated note, here's a fun poem I stumbled across the other day. It doesn't tie into this post, other than being a very common spring/summer/fall phenomenon. From Mosquito, by J. Patrick Lewis:
He shriveled up his body
And he shuffled to his feet,
And he said, “I'm awfully sorry
But a skeeter's got to eat!
Still, there are mosquito manners,
And I must have just forgot 'em.
And I swear I'll never never never
Bite another bottom.”
The iPod (iPhone, these days) was in a mostly jazz mood this morning, with three dreamy meandering pieces and one upbeat toe-tapper.

Today's full playlist:
- Pat Metheny Trio: Dreaming Trees
- Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Waking The Reluctant Genius
- Jeremy Fisher: Scar That Never Heals
- Lyle Mays: We Are All Alone

- Posted via Hermes.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The quiet of a summer afternoon

Sitting on the deck (porch, steps, grass, curb, bench, log, fence) on a summer day, still and with all pours open to the heat and sensory stimuli of the hour, brings a chance to slow right down for a spell, slow down to a moment.

The breeze, borne of the ocean just over the distant pine covered hills, pulses over me every few minutes, an alternating temperature to the warmth of the sun on my skin. It rustles the leaves of the tomato plants and hedge and bounces through a wind chime someplace in the distance with a musical result.

The smell of warm wood is seasoned with the spicy notes of the sun-roasted tomato and basil plants. Someone's BBQ is heating up and casting the smell of hot charcoal into the air. These are the obvious, the loud, smells. The dogs, basking beside me, have busy nostrils as they parse a thousand breeze-brought nuances of scent I cannot decipher. Rich as my nostrils feel in this summer moment, they are paupers of scent next to those of the dogs.

Someone is mowing their lawn. Again, from some distance away the sound floats over the hills to where I sit. Similarly, I can hear snatches of children playing someplace off to my right down the hill, along with now-and-then notes from someone's music - maybe from the same yard?

A neighbor two houses down, a Seinfeld-ian "loud talker," must be having a cell phone conversation in her yard. I listen in on half of her blaring conversation for a few uninvited minutes until the acoustic winds shift and her noise blows elsewhere again and I am left with the chuga-chuga-chuga of a lawn sprinkler at work. All this until a small plane flies slowly over, it's sharp-roared engine cuts across these other sounds as easily as its wings slice through the cloudless blue sky that upholds it.

Because I am sitting so still, a hummingbird braves my proximity to flit in and out of the fuscia blossoms hanging from the planter to my left. If I turn my head very slowly I can watch it work as the sunlight creates a fluorescent light show across its iridescent feathers. The steady drone of its furious wings creates a two-note chord with the buzz of bees who also service the flowers.

Just as flitting as this hummingbird, snatches of childhood summers slip in and out of my awareness, conjured by a sound, a smell, the warmth: the feel of walking barefoot on a warm lawn or tender footed among the pebbles at an icy river's edge, accidentally stepping barefoot on a sun-warmed still-fresh cow patty in a pasture (at once unpleasant and also, if I am honest, warmly luxuriant as it oozed between my toes), floating slowly down a summer river on an inner tube, half in and half out of the of the cool dark green water.

So here I sit on a beautiful summer afternoon, still of movement but busy of sensory awareness. Like the redwood tree in Dana Gioia's poem, Becoming A Redwood:
Stand in a field long enough, and the sounds
start up again. The crickets, the invisible
toad who claims that change is possible,

And all the other life too small to name.
First one, then another, until innumerable
they merge into the single voice of a summer hill.

I could quietly sit here for hours, I could become that redwood, but I know a timer is about to go off and then I will need to get up to brush butter over the small rounds of rising dough destined to shortly become fresh hamburger buns.

Today's soundtrack:
- all summer's local sounds

- Posted via Hermes.