Sunday, February 20, 2011


Last week I spent two days out in the yard, trimming perennials, gazing at new bulbs' green spears, giving thanks for the many wonders that re-appear year after year. Sunshine wrapped around me in a blanket of sixty degree air.

This morning snow is falling and the berms, the beds, the paths I cleared last week are frozen and white. It's been a week of psychotic weather.

Snow, hail, rain, and low sunlight merged here on Wednesday afternoon, leaving a trail of crunched cars and unhappy commuters. One pile-up involved 18 cars. Folks were blinded by brilliant sun bounding off prisms of water and ice.

On Friday Sadie and I lolled all afternoon in the sunroom as grumpy storms huffed by. Thunder roared and wind slashed at tree limbs. Hail walloped the yard, drumming loudly on the sunroom's metal roof. Sadie and I just hunkered together and enjoyed the excitement of it all. Moments later, all was still. Awhile later, the white pellets were gone, as though nothing had happened.

Mid-week, my cousin in Utah reported that three huge pines in her yard were uprooted by wind and beaten down by snow. Her neighborhood wore its destruction like a raggedy war refugee.

Snow fell in the rainforest of the Pacific northwest, nothing as bad as the weeks of white chaos two years ago, the horror that my daughter describes as "Snowapaloosa." But snow fell where it's not supposed to, in the temperate fir and cedar hills of Portland and Seattle.

Yesterday we were warned to get into bomb shelters at five pm to avoid the winter storm barrelling toward us. Never did see that brute, just cold, windy, spits of sleet.

Although the intensity of the week's weather out this way could be blamed on global weirding, I'm inclined to say that it's just spring. Spring weather in my mind is psychotic. It's bi-polar. It's schizo. It's manic and depressive. It knows nothing of nuance. It's all about extremes.

That is one of the things that makes spring so much fun in this country. You never know what the day will bring and so must be prepared for all: chains, Goretex, packs, Tevas and sunscreen.

With the important exception of the distress it causes for people like my cousin, this bold, annoying weather is a bit enchanting. It reminds me of the grandeur of the natural world and how insignificant we human types really are. I don't mind being subjected to a little of the pscyhotic behavior that is springtime.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Am just getting over a nasty respiratory bout. Ticked me off that I got it, being the fanatic about handwashing, door handles, sneezers, etc. that I am. But the week I spent feeling less than optimal was a valuable chapbook. I was reminded of some important lessons.

One thing became apparent. I am so blessed to have good health, to be able to do the very many things (ie, the three jobs, the things for family and friends) I do. It goes without saying that, each day, I get up, I work, I work, I work, I work. Then I go to sleep. Then the next day, same drill.

When my health is compromised, I'm annoyed at my inability to take on the daily challenges. Come on! You can do this! Get over it! Come on! Hate being frail. Hate reconizing limits of my capabilities. When my late husband drove me from high mountain country to the state's capitol for appendicitis surgery, the surgeon was puzzled at my making the trek and asked him "Is she stoic about pain?" My spouse said that indeed I was. It's true. I really don't want to be inconvenienced by illness or pain, thank you very much.

Being sick also made me think of limits. I recalled my dad's anger when diabetes stepped in and set up fences for him. He was not a happy camper and being around him in this phase was not blissful. I remember wondering what it would be like, to have lived a life with no limits, no hurdles, and then to find out that, indeed, there were things that could not be done now. Don't think I'd handle that very gracefully.

I also thought about my late husband. A man cursed with a chronic, painful disease in his twenties, he went about life's work with an amazing optimism and joie de vivre. He just took in stride the daily anguish, inconvenience, torment of his disease and kept on keepin on. I once asked him if he was bitter that his youth was robbed by the onset of his disease. He was so matter of fact: "And what good would that do me?" Yes. What good indeed. There was work to be done. There were resources to be protected. There were things to be built. Get on with it.

Maybe it seems extreme that I would reflect on his courage and stoicism when I merely have a respiratory infection. Maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic. But I don't think so. I think that those of us who have been blessed with ongoing good health, with the ability to take on each day's new challenges, without hurdles of pain, respiratory difficulty, or medicinial side effects, should kneel each morning and give thanks. We should offer our sincerest gratitude that our bodies do their bidding each day, that we are able to keep on keepin on.

And that is what I have learned from a week of being sickly.