SolstusInterruptus

SolsticeInterruptus
Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Hunters in the Snow, 1565
" … I suspect it's only napping."

As if mistaking an afternoon for the wee hours, our summer pulled a reversal overnight. Eighty-five and terribly smoky just yesterday, I woke to snow covered ground. Roads remain bare, since we were frying eggs on the asphalt yesterday and it holds heat like a fire brick, but the trees, none even starting to turn autumn colors yet, suddenly inhabit a snow globe. A very small hummingbird visits the remnants of the hummingbird feeder's contents, still liquid, thank heavens. I'd thought to take it down yesterday afternoon as I prepped for this storm. I almost regret that I live in a time when I can know what the morrow will likely beget, for I spent the few days leading into today dreading summer's interruption. I dutifully carried almost every planter and pot to a tarp-covered basement floor, and even blew out the drip irrigation system as if it was suddenly November in early September. A whole season of sitting on the deck surrounded by sweet scented blossoms, undone but not forgotten in a single afternoon. The cats must have thought me crazy, uprooting our outside home on such a hot and smoky afternoon. My back complained, too, after the lifting was through and I was sipping a cold one and surveying the damage I'd done on the rumor of winter.

I remembered wrong when I recalled previous early snows, for twenty years have passed since the last September snowfall here.
Projections suggest a non-stop snow for all of twenty-four hours, with limb damage and fierce winds. I was not ready to begin again, for I'd seemingly just found the rhythm of this season, grilling almost every evening and watering three times each week, deadheading and mowing, simply sitting each late afternoon as the bright sun slipped away. I was not ready to move my life back inside to hide from the world around me, to forego sunshine and almost aimless days for a life more disciplined and cautious. I believe this a short hiatus, one which will leave us almost as quickly as it arrived. The Muse insists that summer's done, regardless of whether I can put back together the beloved deck garden. My neighbor Ben opted to leave his planters be. "There're too heavy," he insisted. He declined my offer to loan him my hand truck. I accused him of being a cold-hearted man, a critique he accepted as a joke between us, though I was not joking.

Ben's more pragmatic than I, a civil engineer with clearer perspective. He shows occasional flashes of empathy, but he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve like I do. I feel for the petunias and only begrudgingly ever uproot them before their time, even should their shins turn brown and crispy after they've dedicated themselves to producing seed. I believe that each plant probably has a few more sweet blossoms left in them, and seek to prolong their summer. Every year, I spend a month or more lugging planters out to catch waning sunshine and back inside to avoid overnight chill, thinking myself especially benevolent rather than simply in denial. I might be torturing those poor plantings, which will virtually all end up dead compostables in the short or the long run, all except the one or two I transplant inside where white flies invariably invade them to swarm all winter long. Winters seem preternaturally long here. I simply cannot ever seem to simply say goodbye to summer.

I've been dreaming this week of returning to Walla Walla, a valley where the seasons tend to stay in their proper lanes, though spring frequently leads its projected calendar delivery date. Nobody complains if President's Day feels every bit like Easter, if the daffodils arrive well before Mother's Day, and the roses serenely overwinter. Everyone notices when summer's rudely interrupted, for there seems no civil way to displace any summer's day; summer's especially sacred that way. Cold intimations are never appreciated when gamboling through warmth, my inner spring chicken having given way to a goat-like countenance serenely chomping his way through each blessed day. Sunshine comes in convenient six packs, quenching something very likely sacred inside. Moonlight electrifies evening time as Orion's Belt start's its seasonal climb toward the top of a heap of stars. The wildflower garden had started sprouting its second seeding, with Mexican hats and Columbine showing subtle color. The lawn had grown crispy underfoot however much water I'd put on it and the bees worked the Russian Sage in two or three shifts, frantically pulling nectar supposed to last through a long and disappointing Winter ahead. Then one morning, that whole vibrant world seems dead, though I suspect it's only napping.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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