The weather has been wonky lately, which is one reason for the light blogging. There isn’t much to talk about in the garden because, well, it’s been raining. Which is good, and up here in drought country, we’re not complaining, but it is getting just the tiniest bit boring. Summer is so short that it’s hard to lose a whole month to cold and rain, but on the other hand, maybe we won’t have fires all summer.
So anyhow, we came back from a little hike yesterday afternoon just as the clouds were gathering and took refuge in my kitchen. The dogs were asleep in their basket under the table; I was working on the book, and a thunderstorm rolled in. No big deal — I like thunderstorms and we were getting a nice rain out of it.
And then lightning struck. It was as startling as one might imagine, and the flash and bang were so simultaneous and so loud that it was clear it was a close hit. Owen came bolting out of his basket and started barking out the kitchen door. I threw on a raincoat and went outside to take a look but couldn’t see anything, so I went back to the kitchen. A few minutes later, the firetruck showed up. Turns out, it hit a house on the next block, and there was a small fire. Between the firemen and the rain that was coming down in buckets, they had it contained pretty quickly and it doesn’t seem like any lasting damage was done.
The only other time I’ve been in close proximity to lightning was up in the mountains, where you generally get a sense that it’s close. I remember coming down from a mid-summer ski race in Colorado with my friend Greg when the skis on his backpack started to hum. It was a loud hum, too. And his hair was standing on end. I yelled, and he threw down the pack and we ran for the car while the skies exploded around us. This time, there wasn’t any warning — it was just an ordinary thunderstorm, no weird energy in the air, and then, out of the blue, BAM.
Maybe I’ll investigate lightning rods ….
Not much going on here at LivingSmall. It’s been raining, which is good, but which keeps garden news to a minimum. And I’m working on my new book, which means that all my writing energy is going that direction. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with news from the much-anticipated Livingston Rodeo. Three days of rodeo right here over the weekend of the 4th. I love a rodeo.
Last night we had a perfect dinner in the garden. It was a beautiful day — sunny and warm with those big blue skies for which the state is famous. My friend Jim Fergus has been here for the past few days and so I invited Bill and Maryanne to join us for dinner in my backyard. I miss cooking and miss having people over. And so it was lovely to have a normal dinner in the back garden — the daisies are starting to bloom, as are the iris, the columbines and the pink shrub roses I planted last summer. The apple trees are leafed out, and I lit the candle lanterns in their branches and put a bright red Provencal tablecloth out and everything looked quite festive.
It felt like getting back to whatever kind of life is going to be normal now. Three people I love dearly, gathered in my back garden, eating nice food, getting to know one and like one another. And when it got too cold, we moved inside to my wonderful kitchen and ate warm crumble made with rhubarb from the garden. It was the kind of evening that reminds me that although I’ll never get over the events of this year, I can see a way to start going forward, see a way to start being happy again.
Look at that — my very own white picket fence! It’s taken a couple of weeks, and when the guys first came to build it, somehow we’d agreed on a four-foot fence (to match last year’s big investment, the board fence on the south side of the yard). When they put the posts in I nearly had a heart attack — at four feet, it was going to look like Fortress Charlotte. They were nice enough to cut the posts down some, and build the three-foot fence I’d envisioned. So I spent my Memoiral Day weekend painting the fence — just like Tom Sawyer, with my paintbrush. It wasn’t a bad chore, but as a man walking past my house yesterday said — “There’s a good, tedious job.” By that point I was on the last section, and, I must admit, I was getting kind of bored.
But there’s something to be said about tedious physical work. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out the next part of my memoir, and two days of sitting on a milk crate painting pickets gives a girl a lot of time to think about things. I’m not sure I have much more sense of the structure of this section, but it did give me time to think of some other scenes I want to add, and to sketch them out in my head.
And so, back to the real work, as my old prof Gary Snyder would say …