winterspring (or how the days run into each other)

This frame is from a couple of months ago and while springtime may have arrived in the city, the snow’s still piled up pretty high in the mountain ranges on either side of the Whulge basin. We spent the entire weekend at the house but what’s really in a weekend, anymore? The days run into each other, the boys and I are running a 24/7 operation. Their mother’s working every single day, she’s not a workaholic but there’s grimness on the horizon and she’s in a leadership position. The boys and I haven’t left the yard in almost four days but we got some exercise Sunday afternoon, they did a wonderful job getting an old snowberry (Symphoricarpos) out of the ground for me. It was beautiful over the years but got leggy after a couple seasons of neglect, then last summer I gave it a bad haircut on one side because where it grows into the path, I wanted the boys to be able to throw the baseball around without getting scratched up.  A ghastly renovation might have proved successful but I didn’t think I could tolerate any bare, haunted house branches right now. Adam badly bruised his shin when our rusty old shovel splintered as he was levering one side of the root ball, out. Garden implements should not be stored outside, leaning against the house, I suppose.

February 2020 - Sunrise Ridge 181

Across from the currant (flaming fuchsia right now and full of hummingbirds), a buried pile of old bulbs in the backyard have been a stunning surprise, some scattered tulips and daffodils. Those are from a swell old codger down the hill, Biff (i got too fanciful with the aliases last time, so bear with me). It was the year before Lucy the Pug died, Adam was walking her around the block every day, and old Biff was digging bulbs out like crazy in preparation for some new trees to be planted the following week and he asked Adam if we wanted some and before I knew it we had a bushel ten feet high. We trimmed and dried them but time ran out, they spent a winter in the basement, the following spring they were unceremoniously dumped into a pile in the back corner, for I had no inclination to break my back crawling on hands and knees, putting five hundred bulbs into the ground. How can it be they’re sprouting years later is beyond me but perhaps I should resort more often to the Ditch-and-Dump-those-Suckers method of gardening? The Iberis sempervirens is also pretty as heck and the Osmanthus burkwoodii smells lovely (yep, Oliver Fern and I were working on our Latin, this morning).

Our neighbors took some surprising liberties over the weekend, they had a stream of guests over to the house and even some other neighbors brought their dogs to romp in those neighbors’ backyard. I tried to not get overly judgmental up in my mind because it’s impossible to know everyone’s business, perhaps there were perfectly justifiable reasons for all the schmoozing during a global pandemic that my lower than average IQ isn’t capable of comprehending but what the fucking fuck? are you fuckers kidding me? fuuucccckkkk! Even the boys raised their eyebrows a little. You could say that’s why I felt a little relief when the same neighbors departed last evening, for their cabin in the Cascades. They packed the van tightly with hiking boots and coolers, it looked like they were going to have a pretty nice time counting flowers on the other side of the crest. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good people but they’re also crunchy blue bloods and the same rules don’t always apply, I guess. They didn’t ask me to put the trash out this week, I’m afraid it has something to do with my aim last week when I tossed their Sunday paper to the back porch just like they asked but I missed, it got lodged in the trapezoidal space between the hot tub, house and steps. There’s no way I was lowering myself into that cramped, dark nook because who-knows-how-many spiders live down in it. Another time several years ago, they (the neighbors, not the spiders) came to the porch to ask if I’d receive a special delivery, his guitar, while they were on summer vacation across Europe but I made the mistake of answering the door pretty stoned and the neighborly chit-chat felt as though it proceeded for an eternity. It was maybe only the half dozenth time I’ve had a little weed the past twenty-five years or so, I was in a lot of pain at the time but I’m sure in their minds it explained everything.  That stupid guitar never did arrive. That has always haunted me.  Every once in a while when we’re having a friendly chat on the sidewalk, I’ll get to where I really want to ask how did you end up getting your guitar home that one summer? but now I’ve figured there’s really no use, seeming as how my worthlessness extends into lower realms like newspaper or mail.

postscript: I wrote this yesterday. Sorry I said fuck so many times. Yuck. And by the way, this afternoon the boys and I went for a long walk on edges of the neighborhood and we looped around through the Arboretum. Maybe I’ll write about it tomorrow. But keep in mind I’m filling in for seven teachers, right now. 

16 thoughts on “winterspring (or how the days run into each other)

  1. Hey Jason — First I have to flip out over the photo. Excellent!!!! It looks like a montage (collage?) one of those pictures made from multiple images, the snowdrifts in the foreground looks an abstract, don’t have the right terms, anyway, it’s great. back in my little hometown, I grew up with a lot of people who didn’t appreciate, or even resented teachers — after all, “they’re overpaid, get their summers off, get pensions that working folks don’t”. etc. I’m wondering if those people now, trying to fill in as teachers, appreciate how tough the job is?
    Well, on a more positive note, I heard that the teachers organized a motorcade, and drove up and down every street in the village, and the kids turned out with posters and balloons, to cheer & wave at them from their front porches.
    Well, other than the barked shin, sounds like your sons are enjoying the gardening, and just having some physical activity. Your spring is so far ahead of here!

    • Thanks Robert! This is one of those pictures that’s pretty nice in the catalog I use but when I put it in my journal it seems just….sorta okay, so I’m tickled you liked it. Really reading you on the subject of teachers- there’s a very good high school art teacher in my family and also one of the boys’ grandmothers was a second grade teacher for forty years who did a lot of education leadership stuff. As of Monday night the boys’ school district has shuttered for the rest of the year so I’m doing a little extra recalibration this week on at-home learning, activities and communications between the boys and their teachers.

      • We’ve got teachers in the family too, although it looks like my cousin is bailing out after 2 years of H.S. teaching, and headed out your way to try something else. I started taking classes again this year, and one was supposed to be online anyway, but now both classes are, it’s going pretty well, really. I hope your sons are adjusting and maybe enjoying some aspects of it.

      • Is your coursework for certification on something or are you after an advanced degree?

    • Thanks for being a voice in my ear for the past several years, Valarie. I’m not sure if I really have a handle on this thing (at least I’m good at making multiplication tables seem more fun than they really are) but I know you’re right that I won’t be sorry.

  2. I like your free style and the irony about self-worth. That’s obviously on your neighbor from another consciousness.
    It seems like we’re neighbors. You live around the Arboretum, and I’m next door to Volunteer Park.

    • You’re right, we’re practically cousins, Tom! Volunteer Park is an uphill, but pleasant walk from our house. Late this afternoon for exercise, my boys and I carefully walked up the east slope of the hill, admiring stately homes along the way, passed my youngest’s shuttered elementary school and the recently sold Volunteer Park Cafe, cut through Volunteer Park itself (it was getting discomfortingly busy for my taste yet I have to admit parkgoers seemed to be practicing fairly conscientious social distance save for the occasional errant frisbee) and descended to Eastlake for a little western sunshine. Did a lot of darting and dodging along the way, there sure were a lot of people out (I’ll be content to just sit on the back porch this weekend). We’ve confined ourselves primarily to the Arboretum the past few weeks, our neighborhood has a number of “secret paths” into the park and we’ve formed a chain of quiet parts that go from one end to the other. Perhaps someday you’ll spot us… tall, pigeon-toed shuffling old neanderthal with camera, a bespectacled long haired dreamer and a tow headed young ornithologist scanning the trees (or squirrels) with his binoculars.

  3. Yikes, I too would be wondering wtf the neighbors are up to! For the most part, I am pleased with the response of the majority of Washingtonians to this crisis. I am also very glad to be living in a state with a responsible, hard working Governor. Three cheers for the left coast! Stay well and I noticed on a FB post that there is a group doing some virtual ranger led tours of the Olympics, Mt. Rainier, etc. for kids, I think it was called the Washington National Parks Association or something like that. I will get back to you if I can find it. Probably like going back to kindergarten for your well traveled boys, but it might be worth a look.

    • Let me know if you find that virtual tour again or maybe I’ll look into it for myself this weekend, it sure sounds neat. My youngest would probably love it. I’m like you in terms of feeling good about the overall response to the pandemic, here. There are plenty of ding-dongs everywhere but Seattle in general has always had a lot of thoughtful, really civic-minded smart people and I think that can definitely be extrapolated to western Washington and other parts of the state. Three cheers for the Left, best Coast 🙂 We have a lot of good civil servants here, too. I can’t count on only one hand how many times friends from elsewhere in the country have openly professed their admiration for Inslee, to me.

  4. That photograph is wonderful, great lines, tones and textures. Taking a more active part in my children’s education has been wonderfully eye-opening for me. It has also been fun to take advantage of lesson planning around real life, such as using math to figure out how big the garden needs to be, or working on the all-important techniques of reading a clock. I’ve always been supportive of teachers, my mother taught elementary school grades her whole career, but I think many of us are pretty far removed from what that experience is like for our children. Once school is back in session I think I would like to get more involved, or at least find a way to stay more connected to what they are doing away from the house. Work, though, yeah, it is a LOT of work. Hang in there and enjoy the creeping spring.

    • Your remark about how removed we are from our children’s experience with school resonates, Andrew. There’s really a lot of truth to that (and not just because I went to school so long ago).

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