Thursday, September 23, 2010

Late bloomers

This is the first year I've planted dahlias.  I can see how the man I bought my bulbs from got obsessed.  His whole property is devoted to this prolific late bloomer.  I only got one of mine to mature, but every day there's a new bud unfolding its crazy pink petals.  It doesn't care that today is the first day of fall and that the Japanese Maple in the front yard is sending out its red warning signal – Danger! Danger! Winter approaching!  The dahlia exists in a state of denial that I can fully embrace:  Fuck that chilly breeze.  Fuck that sagging dresser drawer loaded down with sweaters.  It's summer, dammit...look at me shine!

My affinity for this late blooming beauty makes sense in another way too.  In one week I turn 40 and I'm surprised to find that it feels like cause for celebration rather than despair.  I just slipped into a pair of jeans I haven't been able to fit into in several years.  The various body aches and pains that plagued me for the same amount of time are gone.  The chaos that consumed my psyche in my teens and twenties and the hurdles thrown at me in my thirties have grown smooth and calm. 

At 40 my mother had a 9 and 11-year old and was preparing to take us on a tour of Europe.  As V.P. of a candy company my father traveled weekly between Chicago and New York.  My life is very different, but I have no complaints. Being on a different schedule than the rest of the garden flowers can be a pretty good thing.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Summer spent

My disappearance from this blog all summer is not necessarily an indicator of a season full of activity, too busy and brimming with heat to bother slumping down in front of the computer to post a thought or too. Our six short weeks of tepid, cloudless balm were sweet but largely uninspired. Nonetheless, here are 6 highlights.
  1. In search of warmer weather we drove south to camp in the Willamette National Forest in a new spot with a frigid but beautiful swimming hole.  Standing on a narrow bridge over the Santiam River, we looked into the clear night sky and saw the milky way.  No pictures.  Forgot my camera.
  2. I took a workshop in massage for the frail elderly.  I rubbed lotion into the thin map of skin on the hands of women in a skilled nursing facility, some of them able to offer nothing but a vague grin, some of them responding by returning the favor and rubbing my hands.  As I said to the instructor, this work is going to force me to be a better person.
  3. At 30 I bought my beau a gorilla suit, a massive contraption of fur and rubber.  This summer, when he turned 40, we went to Men's Warehouse and I bought him a monkey suit.  There is something very sexy about a man in a tailored suit holding a guitar.
  4. I coaxed from the earth a towering sungold tomato plant, a plodding zucchini, a handful of strawberries and a single dahlia plant that looks like a pom-pom from Dr. Seuss.
  5. I entertained my entire immediate family for nearly two weeks straight with only the briefest of less-than-generous behavior.  Six of us packed into a giant air-conditioned SUV, shunning the flash of hot weather, and drove to the coast, the gorge, the valley. 
  6. I sat in the dappled afternoon light of my living room and read The Odyssey and Lia Purpura's magnificent essays, On Looking and Gregoire Bouillier's funny, crazy wonderful book The Mystery Guest.  I thought a great deal about writing, about why I started writing and why I should continue, both here and elsewhere.  I haven't come up with the answer yet, though I feel a slow but powerful shift beneath me, aiming me in a slightly different, more challenging direction.
Cannon Beach
Mt. Hood
Kale grown for the sole purpose of making kale chips
Spider playground.
My view for the last hot day of the year, August 30th.