Monday, June 29, 2009

A Small List

1. Rainy weather is good weather. A cool front has settled over our island, and the weather has been extraordinarily cool and rainy for weeks on end. I love it. I'm not in good company, though. Each trip into town, I invariably run into someone who moans and groans about how awful the summer is so far. I hold my tongue and make sympathic-sounding noises, but really, I want to say: "Ah, but don't you love how cool and green the mornings are? Look how much money we are saving on air-conditioning! Isn't it better to have this than a drought?"

I keep my silence because I could go on and on, enough to alarm my fellow islander. In fact, I am surprised myself at how much I love the weather. I especially love the strange feeling of mystery that comes along with the unseasonable foggy days. There is none of the melancholy that comes with the autumn fogs, no whisper of fading or death that the fall inevitably brings. Instead, there is just this pure, green, freshness in the fog, and it's exciting in some way, like something powerful and interesting and new is right around the corner.
I've also caught myself spending more time at the window, especially when it rains. My favorite thing to watch is the quick moving storm that drops rain so thickly that sometimes it looks like a curtain, and then, just as suddenly, it fades to an airy, lacy spray. On those afternoons, as soon as the sun smudges yellow against the clouds, the girls and I shout "Rainbow weather!" and run out into the yard to find one.

I have been walking in the mornings, and the air is heavy with the smell of honeysuckle and mimosa. The humid air doesn't discriminate about which scents it carries, and it's an olfactory map of our neighborhood. I like to imagine that if I close my eyes, I could tell by the faintly sick and musty smell of the turtles that I am near the pond to or by the wave of the smell of horses, that I am near the little rise in the road. On clear days, the water of the pond flashes blue and bright, and the leaves are silvery in the sun, and that is lovely too. But as I said, there is something special about the dense feel of the air and the light on a misty day. I think it makes me want to walk around in it more, and that can only be a good thing.

2. We are in a fix-it mode, as our house is about to celebrate its 4th birthday. It's clear that we need to attend to the little things projects now in small increments, or suffer the house needing more extensive work later on. Among our projects are cleaning out the garage, painting the outside trim on the doors and northern windows, cleaning the windows themselves, hanging blinds, repainting trim and doors inside, and repainting any areas that have excessive wear. The list keeps growing, but I must admit that doesn't detract from my happiness when I cross off an item I've completed.

The biggest and most intimidating is the painting. I might enjoy painting a canvas, but I am really poor at painting a wall, on which you are supposed to eliminate brushstrokes. I'm practicing and hoping to get better as we work our way around the house. My husband is much better at making it look neat, so he gets to do the second coats. It's slow work, and the rain makes me space out the steps--prep, tape, paint, paint again, touch up. In between each of these is the cleaning up, and the waiting for the paint to dry or the rain to stop or in some cases, both. It's paying off, though. The laundry room is done, and bright and happy in an orangey shade called Nasturtium (honestly, though I hate the vagueness of paint names, I love the names themselves. Regardless of how it actually looks on the wall, nasturtium has sweet ring to it, doesn't it?). I did the laundry room first because I spend enough time there, and it may as well be cheery and clean. Plus, it's a good testing ground. If I ruin it, I'm the only one who would really notice. I'm glad to say that it came out perfectly. Yay me. Now to get the stuff in there folded, ironed, and put away.

The front door was a more obvious place to begin, and we've been working on it in little phases. As of this morning, it's done! I just put the finishing touches on the front porch by polishing the aluminum threshold. I put away the polish, and felt the good gratification of a job well done when I stepped back and saw our red door and clean white trim. I think I'll keep walking back over there to give myself a mental "pep talk" when I feel like quitting...

3. In all of this, I have been writing in the lucid way that comes when you are writing in your head. The repetitive motions of moving the paint brush, wiping window sills, or pushing an iron are all equally monotonous, and in that, they are equally freeing. Ideas, phrases, and sometimes fully-fleshed out paragraphs come to me while I'm engaged in non-writing activities. And it is writing. I've always believed it so. When I was teaching, I even took the risk of telling my students that "writing in your head" counted. It does count, because even when it's in your head, it's clearly writing, differentiated from regular thinking because it's formed with expression and structure and-- and this is the the biggest difference--an inescapable desire to save it onto paper. Of course, when you're writing in your head, you are the only reader, but it's important to remember that the self is a worthy audience, perhaps the most valuable audience you have.

Now don't go imagining that I gave credit for "writing in your head" when I was teaching. As I would point out to my students, while writing in your head counts, writing counts even more once you put it into text and share it with someone. It was my hope that giving them permission to ponder and listen to their own writing voice would improve their confidence. I like to think it did. When I read my students' work, it was obvious to me which students allowed themselves the space to form their writing before they actually wrote it. Their writing was that much stronger, their "voice" that much clearer.

My voice is coming clearly to me these days, as I wind around the pond. I'm eager to share some of it with you in the next few weeks.

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La Belette Rouge said...

1. Oh, that sounds heavenly. 98 degrees in Valencia. I so miss Chicago summer storms and the thunder and hail and lightning.

2. Please post pictures of all your hard work. I am sure it feels so good to be achieving things that have long been on your list.

3. I am always afraid to write in my head as I fear I will lose it and I will never get it back. You, however, being the creative dynamo that you are I feel confident that you never lose any of them and that one leads to another and then another and another....

Maggie May said...

The rain is a most important part of my writing. When it rains, I write more of what I want to write.

Lydia said...

I know the light inside the fog that you are speaking about. It's always special to me when I find a day like that over at the coast, my favorite kind of climate there actually. You described the scene absolutely beautifully. I treasure the rain and could never return to Reno where I was raised: too much sun.

Your home looks very grand. Our front resembles yours only in that we each have red front doors! Have you heard of Devine Paint? It was developed by a woman to catch light, and is highly touted to be "the" paint for the Northwest. That's what I used two years ago when I had the godawful dark green-and-burgundy color scheme in the downstairs changed to reflect my taste and not the woman who sold us the house. These rooms include two of my major colors: Devine Ginseng, and Devine Glass. I don't think it pictures the color I used in the laundry room, but it sounds along the line of your idea: Devine Mesa - a lovely terra cotta. All the ceilings were done in Devine Whip, a luscious variation of white.
Now, that's the downstairs. That room upstairs -- the clutter room -- has had nothing done to it in the ten years we've lived here and that is about to change!

angela said...

Hi Kirie

I love a long Spring - cool and lots of rain - it reminds me of Springs at home - I wish I could be taking walks with you in the morning - maybe soon, I hope.

I like the picture of the front door - you and Derek did a great job.

Check out the Deivine paint - it looks really cool.

Maybeads said...

I LOVE your red front door!!! Perfect!

Angie Muresan said...

You are incredibly lucky to live on an island, if only for that reason alone. I love foggy, rainy, and stormy weather. Sitting inside a cozy home with my loved ones, a warm drink in my hand, and a fire burning in the fireplace while outside a storm rages feels so romantic.

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