Growing up in far Northern New York, St. Lawrence County, I was deprived of summer. I'm quite serious. And yes, I took the weather personally. I. Was. Deprived. We had about two days that I could identify as summer each year. On those days, as a girl-child enamored of television and all that I saw there but did not see around me, I would put on my bathing suit, rub baby oil on my body and promptly get a sunburn. Every year. As I recall the grown ups would have a clam bake and get drunk. Our county fair was always the first week in August. We prayed for sun. Occassionally there was a nice day. But you could pretty much count on Fair Week being a rainy week. I felt SO summer-deprived [all together now: HOW DEPRIVED WERE YOU?] that, when Mom would send me to Pop Daily's corner market for cigarettes, I took to sneaking out of the house - in the dead of snowy winter - with a coat covering just shorts and a sleeveless top. A couple of times Mom got a glimpse of me putting on my coat and tried to give me hell but I think she was too stunned by it to really lay into me and I was able to make a quick exit. I walked through snow drifts down the block dreaming of tropical beaches.
Fast forward to my adult life and imagine me moving from Virginia, my home of six years, to Port Townsend, Washington. I was counting - big time - on the temperate nature of this coastal town. Imagine my dismay when it never warmed up that summer. I kept finding myself at North Beach at sunset, freezing because I hadn't thought to put on a sweater. In July. So it was no surprise to me when, at the Writer's Conference, Dorothy Allison walked on stage, leaned into the mic and said in her husky Carolina drawl: I brought a bathin'suit. .....I shoulda brought whiskey. And gloves.
On the flip side of my summer lust, is my Christmas tree craziness. I have a reputation, fairly earned, for leaving up my tree a little too long. Used to be I told myself that a couple of weeks before Christmas to a couple of weeks after was perfectly reasonable. Cheery lights and decorations are tools to ward off the blues that come in the darkest days of the year. But then it began not to seem so bad to leave it up through January. Then February, which is, after all, a short month. Next thing I knew I was like some immobile, depressed slug, sitting in my living room, staring at a tree which was devoid of all its needles - in April. Just bare branches sitting on the tinder of a long-dead pile of needles that covered the tree-skirt. "Easier to take off the decorations," I thought! But no. The limbs kind of dried in a contortion that gripped the decorations tightly, forcing me to rip them apart while trying find all the hidden ornaments, yet not break them. This year I just put up a tiny artificial table-top tree. Yesterday I thought about my fellow committee members coming this morning and I picked up the thing by the top and moved it to the garage. It's not literally "put away" but it's out of the living space.
And now there's the matter of planting flower bulbs. Finally, Thursday night, January 28th.,I planted the last of my bulbs. I could give you so many reasons why it took me this long, starting with kitty hospice and ending with soggy soil during the winter rains. The point is I come from the east coast where we plant our bulbs in fall, as in October, maybe early November if the ground hasn't frozen. I've been well-trained. And we've had a mild mild winter for the most part. AND I have garden beds that are quite young and easy to dig in, too. I bought the bulbs from the boy next door in the fall. He had a school fundraiser and I had been meaning to put in some spring blooming bulbs. Then it was a bit late, November, when they were delivered. And the kitty was dying. So after she died and I buried her, Dec. 17, I did plant the tulips and tiger lilies in front of her grave and Lisa Miranda's. That made me happy, to think of pink Angelique tulips adorning their gravesides in spring with pink or red tiger lily varieties nearby in summer. But that was about half of what I bought. So Thursday night, just before dark, I managed to dig five areas up and lay in about sixty assorted daffodils and sixty drumstick magenta allium. My neighbor told me that same evening that something (she suspects raccoons) had dug up all of the bulbs she planted and she wondered how my back yard, which I'd planted in December, fared. I went out to check. My work was undisturbed. Shadow dog has done a fine job of keeping our yard clear of raccoons. But as I surveyed the whole area to be certain, I saw something startling. One tiger lily had sprouted about three inches and was leafing out. I guess I'm not the only one who's seasonally challenged. Good luck little flower!
Thriving Together, in Art
1 year ago