Le Weekend

Le Weekend

Sometimes a person just needs a weekend where you really don’t do anything. This is a concept I came to late in life — until I moved to California and got my job at the Big Corporation, I’d always worked at least two jobs, and one of them was usually retail. Which means I didn’t have weekends — I’d have a day off somewhere in the middle of the week, and after a while I managed to get out of working Sundays, and so it was something of an adjustment when Patrick and I moved in together, and those weekends he wasn’t working, he pretty much took to the couch and watched TV.

I was horrified. He was spending a whole day off, sometimes two, on the couch. Napping even. With a whole day off, I thought we should be doing something. Those first couple of years at the Big Corporation were pretty tiring though, and slowly, I found myself getting sucked in, once in a while, to the idea that you could spend a weekend just hanging around the house. That you could rest. That you could lie around the living room reading books and watching something restful on the tv like golf, or cooking shows. If it was winter you could have a fire in the fireplace during the daytime. And maybe cook something nice on Sunday afternoon — something that needed braising, and filled the house with the smell of good food cooking.

It’s been one of those weekends here. The weather’s been very spring-in-Montana — intermittent snow or rain showers, sometimes a little sunshine, but nothing you can count on. And enough new snow up high to make a hike with the dogs seem like more trouble than it’s worth — so, it was a quiet weekend here. I read Ian McEwan’s new book, Saturday which I liked very much. Somehow, since Patrick died, I haven’t really been able to read much. I remember several years ago, at the Art of the Wild conference, Maxine Hong Kingston saying that it was nearly three years after her house burned down before she could really read again, and that she still finds herself going to bookshelves that no longer exist, seeking to pull down a book that has long since burned up. So it was a great relief to be able to sit down for several hours at a stretch this weekend and read a really lovely, literary novel by an author I like. I’ve had trouble finishing books this last year or so — Marylynne Robinson’s Gilead has been sitting on my night table, half-finished, for weeks now. Or Francine Prose’s A Changed Man which I started, but which will have to wait for another weekend, because I discovered that I couldn’t read about evil right before bedtime. I’ve also got the wonderous Amy Hempel’s new book: The Dog of the Marriage, a book that despite it’s slight heft, seems so condensed, and in the way that short stories often do, demands a quality of attention I haven’t felt up to quite yet. Perhaps later this spring, when the apple trees bloom, and I put the hammock back up again. And I bought what looks like a Big Fat Novel, a Good Read: Pinkerton’s Sister by Peter Rushforth — about a nineteenth-century spinster who reads too much, and Maryanne gave me her advance copy of Jeanette Walls new memoir The Glass Castle, so perhaps I can start to make some forays back into the world of real reading.

Le weekend chez Charlotte has involved much lounging around, some minor grocery shopping, a brief foray into cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer (I hate to throw out food, but eventually one must admit that as good as it was, you’re not going to eat five more servings of that lovely soup). A little dog walking and a continuation of our spring project, to teach Owen the meaning of “whoa!” — that it doesn’t mean “look over your shoulder before running half a mile down the cow pasture chasing bird scent” but that it means “stop where you are and stay there until I tell you you can move.” We have a ways to go on this project.

As far as the garden goes, the chives are up, the parsley that overwintered is beginning to poke its head above the new compost, there are arugula and spinach seedlings coming up, and the tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, melons, cucumbers and peppers I’ve started in the basement are doing their seedlings thing under the lights, and seem to have liked their couple of daytime forays out into the cold frames.

4 thoughts on “Le Weekend

  1. Oh such a relief to know I am not alone in my weekend retreats! I spent my Sunday dressed in PJs wandering a sunlight garden, replenishing bird feeders, idly pulling at weeds in the herb garden, stroking sunbathing cats and admiring marauding magpies and squirrels, in between numerous naps on the sofa.

    There was much I could have done, should have done but nothing that I felt inclined to to do…

    Some days it is good to remember that we are Human Beings and not Human Doings…

  2. I love weekend retreats now i’m working full time. The joy of being able to sit out on my patio with cup of coffee even if I have to wear a coat. Your plants make me envious. I think I’ll have to make a trip to a garden centre this upcoming weekend.

  3. Please tell me how you are teaching, “Whoa,” to your dog. I have had fabulous success teaching my dogs anything that I am close enough to physically model them into, but the long-distance stuff escapes me. And thanks so much for reminding me that we need rest, not just change.

  4. Well, whether I’m actually managing to teach them or not is still seriously up in the air. Raymond kind of knows “whoa” — and I think because it’s so close to “no” they kind of elide the two. We’ve been doing two things — a lot of leash walking with unexpected “whoa!” commands, and then I’ve been working on the long lead with Owen a little bit — I bought a 30 foot leash for teaching field work. That’s less successful because even on the long leash he tends to go right to “heel” … and then there’s the other highly-technical training technique, which is simply yelling “whoa!” at them out on the trail and giving them exessive amounts of praise and treats when they (occasionally) notice that I’m bellowing at them. Like I said — it’s a process — and if they’re more than about 20 feet away, I usually lose out to whatever bird scent they’ve discovered …

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