Rendered Fat Content


Francis Danby: The Deluge (1840)
" … find good reason to look back longingly …"

We hadn't seen any real rain—really, no rain at all—since we'd returned to The Villa Vatta Schmaltz in late March. We'd seen what might have passed as a passing shower had it done more than briefly dampen the pavement before quickly evaporating off. One hundred and seventy days of extreme drought, also one hundred and seventy days of SettlingInto and HomeMaking, more than half a year. I'm tempted to call that period an era, because it seems as though it was. One rainy day seems to have broken a persistent spell, one during which I could not tell where its edge might lie. Those days seem to have been suspended in time and place, framing our return to this most extraordinary space, like an extended overture setting the stage for whatever follows. It seemed endless from within it, sometimes interminable. During the hottest summer days, we seemed especially cursed, but mostly it seemed as if we had been especially blessed. I knew it could not last but I didn't want it to end then, or ever. It's over now.

Oh, I expect an extended Indian Summer to work on scaffolding, tidying up a few surfaces and windows.
My work's not nearly finished. The Muse wants to transplant iris and I still have a few doors to finish refurbishing and some baseboard, but I can sense that my Pop-up Paint Shoppe tent will one day go into storage and this story, the one I've been living since before I began this series, will end. That ending will probably seem even more like the end of an era for me.

An era is a time when things continue without much disruption. Routines emerge and stick. Expectations focus not very far beyond the present. A schedule emerges, one which successfully distinguishes weekdays from weekends, breakfasts from suppers. Bedtime gets established, as does rising. The cats adopt the rhythm. Eras emerge and cannot be engineered. They come and they go on their own time, according to their own rules. One never masters them, but might come to expect their patterns, reliably replicating, and feel shocked and cheated when they're pulled away. Eras represent cruising speed conditions, where we might experience optimums. They never last forever.

What I took for granted during that passing Re-Introductory Era might never return. The rhythms and patterns I'd grown accustomed to might never re-emerge again. I might remember that Spring and Summer as a golden age, the time before the deluge, before time and fate tipped over my Tinker Toy tower. The time before Noah build his vessel and told the rest of us to go to Hell. Newer orders will later prevail, emerging from the recent scourge, but the older order will never return.

That last Spring before graduating high school, I experienced a great intuition. As unlikely as it seemed, I imagined that the world I'd grown up in would soon be disappearing. I told myself to buy some film and take photographs of everything I'd become familiar with, especially whatever didn't seem very special. The corner grocery I'd always known. The downtown so well established. Church, school, secret passages, all should be captured as if they really mattered, as if they would soon disappear. I didn't follow that intuition. I suppose I was too busy or distracted or something, but I never got around to completing that particular assignment. That whole world, which seemed so stabile, soon disappeared as if evaporated, never to return. An era ended, never to be replicated. Another era began, to be followed by another then another in endless succession.

FirstRain prefaces a coming deluge, one which will wash away a world that worked for its time but which nobody could hope to sustain. We remain in transit here. We create our routines within moving frames. Seasons change and so do eras. What we can accomplish today, there's no guarantee about tomorrow. This era's been a peak experience. The next one might be a valley. The optimism within which I entered this one might shortly be dashed by experience. Not even this extraordinary time proved to be perfect. It brought disappointment, too, but I can guarantee you that I will recall this era fondly and find good reason to look back longingly to that time before the FirstRain and to wish that I could live like that again.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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