Friday, October 21, 2022

Racing the Rain

As I sat in the dark morning hours listening to the fog horns from the passing cargo ships blow through my sleepy little bay, all I could think about was the rain mere hours away (that won't stop until next May June July).  This piece of information has had me in quite a state ... You know when something vibrates so fast that it appears to be still?  That's pretty much how I spent this entire past week.  I am working my way through my massive to-do list, but my head is whirring and zinging, and even though things are getting done, it doesn't really look, or feel like it.  The most potentially paralyzing aspect of this week, as I feel myself slipping into the comfy coping mechanism of procrastination, has been that this isn't even my end-of-season to-do list, this is just all the junk that needs to get done now because I don't have a garage, or barn, or lean-to, or even a SunSetter retractable awning to work under during the swiftly approaching deluge.  I still have my to-do list, the one full of all the things that can be done in the rain that I am already completely dreading.  I'm trying to finish the season strong so I have as few of the rainy day tasks as possible, but I know I'm still going to spend at least part of this Fall as a drowned rat.

What feels awesome, however, is that after a pretty rocky start to the year (and longest, coldest, soggiest,
gloomiest Spring and start to Summer in recent memory), the growing season was true to its name in more than one way.  Not only did my garden beds explode with gorgeous, colorful, robust flowering plants, but there were moments when I felt myself blooming, and flourishing under the heat of the Summer sun as well, and not just with my physical health taking a turn in the right direction, but also with a certain degree of levity of spirit, and lightness of heart that has been absent from my life for a very long time, sprinkled on top.  Even though the last few months were hardly devoid of a generous share of challenges, and less-than-desirable surprises, there was an overarching feeling of freedom that I happily welcomed.  I'm not totally sure what exactly changed, because there was no one obvious thing, but something has definitely shifted, and I'm just going to go with it, and try (for once) not to over-analyze.  We'll see how that goes...

Sometimes it can feel like I'm spending the majority of my time perpetually tying up loose ends (in fact I can't believe how many times I've written that exact phrase in my daily planner) and forever playing catch up, but this Summer instead of knotting, and burning the tips, I've been unraveling, picking out and discarding the damaged pieces, and re-braiding the entire rope(s) ... All of them.  Nearly every project that needed to get done this year had to be started from square one.  Typically this is something that would drive me c r a z y.  I have a sort of maintenance mindset where a little constant effort here, and there saves me BIG effort later.  I mean, I know I didn't invent this ... "A stitch in time, saves nine," and all that, it's just something I really buy into.  Suffice to say, this Summer was a BIG effort season.  It became clear pretty early on that every time I started what should've been a modest chore, it was going to explode into a situation that I had to strip back to basics before even entertaining the idea of moving forward.  It will probably surprise no one that this is not at all the kind of Summer I intended to have -- me frolicking in vellum thin maxi dresses floating on soft breezes, and spending mornings sipping freshly squeezed juices from the comfort of a chaise lounge will have to wait -- and maybe the fact that I was so late in my yearly goal-setting game had a bit to do with that, but the reality of it is, I spent the majority of my days in rolled down men's boxer shorts, and stained tank tops whilst covered in any combination of mud, muck, sweat, and paint.  What may surprise you, reader, is that I didn't fight it.  I didn't throw tantrums.  I didn't deny reality, ignore it, take half measures, or try to "magically think" my way out of it, because when you know the jig is up, you know.  

I didn't want to spend 4 solid months toiling away, but I REALLY didn't want to spend the cold months regretting How I Spent My Summer Vacation.  Looking back, my word of the year is making more and more sense as the days continue to unfold.  My ultimate goal for the year was to be able to change, and flex as the conditions around me called for it; to revise and modify as needed.  I think that's what I've been doing, at least I feel that I've handled the things that have come up with a lot less rigidity, and that's an exhilarating, new sensation.  Without my commitment to the notion, I don't know that I could've accomplished everything that I did, especially when you consider I was essentially cramming a decade's worth of chores into 12 weeks on top of all of the daily duties one does living in, and contributing to a polite society.  So when the weather kept cooperating, I had no choice but to keep going ... I thought if Mother Nature is going to cheat the calendar, then so am I!  It's also why I keep referring to everything before today as "Summer," even though we're nearing the end of October.  This past Sunday, I was literally wearing a string bikini in 88°F (31°C) weather while I separated, and re-potted the day lilies.  

Side note: A gardening / yard work bikini is not that weird of a thing in a place where it's impossible to have adequate vitamin D levels without supplementation.  In most parts of the world, folks who work outside take every precaution to protect their skin, meanwhile I'm just happy to not explode into ash when sunlight touches me. 

Typically, by the end of August I'm beginning to pack up, and stow away tarps, and tools, and projects that I just don't want to bother with in a monsoon, even though I've always felt that we get our best weather in September, temperature wise, the rain can strike at any moment, and to me, it's always best to just go ahead and prepare for that.  Instead, this year just since September first, I've dismantled a dilapidated fence, cleaned out, scrubbed, and repainted my fire pit, then dug out, and placed a new slab for it to sit on, painted my front porch & railing which required scrubbing, scraping, and the removal of rail planters, and stripped, shop-vac'd, bleached, painted, re-organized, and completely conquered the scariest tool-shed on earth that houses one of the largest spiders I've ever seen with my own eyeballs in Western Washington (terrifyingly lovingly referred to as "Fuzzy").  It may not seem like a whole lot of tasks in the grand scheme of things, but this was all on top of potting 15 rose bushes, transplanting I-don't-even-know-how-many miscellaneous plants, while caring for, observing, and recording information on three separate beds of dahlia plants.  Plus, considering my shed used to be something a person would just stand at the door & throw whatever you needed to put away in order to avoid actually having to go inside, and now it's something that the stray cat considers to be her own private guest cottage, and a place I truly enjoy spending my time in ... It genuinely was a load of work, necessary work, and work that I am, indeed, proud of.  
All in all, what has become unavoidably clear to me this year is that I can no longer attempt to create the life I want to live with a bunch of junk (both tangible and intangible) in the form of other people's motives, actions, assumptions, and expectations hanging over my head along with abandoned possessions, property others have refused to maintain, and spaces that I can't use in the way I want and need to use them, holding me down, and keeping me stuck.

And now the rain is here, and I can relax...