If I look back on this post a year from now, here is what I want to remember: a fire rainbow in the windswept mare’s tails clouds above the city at lunchtime; excellent coffee on many a morning boosting morale; picking and eating small precious handfuls of the summer’s first blackberries; swimming, arms reaching, body skimming through the liquid landscape of the lake; homemade pizza; finally giving myself a much-needed footrub; evening walks to the tune of peaceful and yolky sunsets.
Somehow when I think of summer I tend to picture lazy days spent reading novels in a hammock or bare feet sun-browned and barnacle-toughened padding along dry forest paths. This summer has not been that. It’s been full, hectic, busy, the kind with too many workdays. Last month was my high school reunion, which I emphatically said I would avoid, but a chance encounter, a random comment, and all of a sudden we had tickets. An afternoon at the lake with old friends was just as good as it ever was, and felt so overdue. The reunion itself was both incredibly awkward and far more fun than expected. It was interesting the way people looked like themselves, but more, or less, or different than back then at any rate, everyone wearing ten years differently. To my great frustration, I spent the whole next week wishing I had worn my polka dotted dress instead. Ridiculous.
This past Sunday morning we slept late and stumbled around the house confused and unsettled. The sky was an eerie sepia-orange-pink, the inside of our house at midmorning was dark as evening. We hoped that a storm was rolling in, and would bring rain, but it just brewed and brooded until we couldn’t take it and drove across town in the muggy heat to the lake my husband swam in as a child. I had to turn on the headlights in order to see the console.The sun was a red disk in the smoggish sky and a faint taste of smoke told us what we had begun to expect: this was forest fires. The winds had shifted, bringing to our awareness to what’s going on in much of the rest of this province, and it was like a mild version of the July I spent up north last summer. At the lake, the green of the trees was almost fluorescent in the twilight-zone kind of light. The water was refreshing, normalizing, and we returned home in the afternoon able to pick up the threads of tasks we had scattered in the morning.
The reach-tug of the waves along the shore this morning while I walked home from my job in town was validating and soothing to some piece of me that wants freedom and creativity above all, that struggles to meet the schedules of the mundane and hopes pockets of time would open when wished for and treasures would show up on the most drudging of days. I did see a northern flicker and a host of robins though, so that is something.
I go out into the garden before I’m fully awake in the mornings, last tendrils of sleep wrapping around the trellised peas and eyes a little blurry in the light of the already blue sky. My purpose is to pick greens for the rabbits’ breakfast, but it is also a lovely way to start the day. This morning there were two juvenile crows just waking up in the big tree by the house, stretching their glossy black wings and shuffling their feet, looking down at me in the garden and making soft groggy sounds, and a squirrel already busy in the tree’s higher branches.
Last night we watched the Canada Day fireworks from our front porch. It was so nice to be home, and to lean against my husband on the porch rail. Earlier in the evening, we had walked through the park to the footbridge and watched all manner of boats streaming by towards the inner harbour- rowboats, kayaks, paddleboards, powerboats. People also drifted past on their bicycles, some with pockets bulging with beer cans, and families walked by in hordes, lugging blankets and lawnchairs. Coloured lights expanded in circles, hovered for an instant, some shimmering as they faded. Their spidery smoke shadows lingered longer, illuminated in the dazzling brightness. But you’ve all seen fireworks before.
Better still was the swimming in the afternoon – we slipped into a lake that was refreshing but not cold, shallow rocks to dive off, and I swam past water lilies, out to an island and under overhanging Douglas fir branches laden with cones and a steep shore covered in fireweed and pink spirea.
I made a crazy hippie necklace today, with a quartz point hanging from a large faceted chunk of blue kyanite, the rest a frenzy of twisted silver wire and gemstone beads. I made it for fun, not thinking I would actually wear the thing, and playfully named the creation “dreaming happiness” as only an ornament involving a large chunk of kyanite and multiple other coloured crystals should be called. I did try it on to make sure it was a reasonable necklace size though, and ended up wearing it to the grocery store, and out for dinner, and I felt so sad and mopey after I took it off this evening that I put it back on and am wearing it now. So that’s that.
I’m not sure if I realized before beginning, but gardening is a labor of love. That, or folly, but we are just novices. I’ve been tugging out some kind of nightshade with white flowers and fruit like small green tomatoes. I had yet to identify it so left a few of the robust, sprawling plants in case they turned out to be a lovely elephantine wildflower that we planted in a misguided attempt to decorate the garden borders, or perhaps the best crop of accidental eggplants this island has ever seen. It turns out the stuff is American Black Nightshade, so I will definitely be removing the rest of it tomorrow. My greasy hair drove me to the garden (I know, the shower would have been an excellent choice, but the weeding really needs to happen around here somehow), where I weeded with angst and ferocity, and also patience and some mindful and methodical mulling, for hours. The moonrise found me sullen and tired, though the full moon shone bright opalescent in a gradation of sky all smokey blues and lilacs. I barely noticed the sunset light up hot pink along long, low clouds in the west. Later, in a lull in the dull popcorn sound of amateur fireworks and the wails of sirens towards town, Venus and Jupiter appeared, glowing brightly very close together, well beyond the branches of the big pine tree that towered over us. The darkening garden was quiet with the small rustles of an evening breeze, moths’ wings, birds settling.