butter and maple syrup
This morning I toasted waffles for Oliver Fern, leftovers from Adam’s birthday breakfast. Oliver likes his butter and maple syrup. He was devouring them (the waffles, too) just three minutes before class and here came Adam gingerly climbing the stairs which corkscrew from the not-so-very-nice basement where he has spent the past several nights sleeping on a practically dirt floor with the spiders, tools and musty laundry because his room upstairs has been getting close to ninety degrees despite my best efforts blocking all flicker of sunlight with bedsheets and towels. Along with no insulation inside of the walls, this old house has double hung, single pane windows which freely allow the transmission of confused bumblebees and outside air, to the indoors. Sleeping next to the washing machine is just a temporary arrangement but as he grasped upwards on the handrail for balance, squinting into the light of the kitchen and scrunching his itchy face in that ghastly orthodontic mask, Adam at first resembled something out of a horror movie. He takes the mask off in the morning, transforming into a studious junior high pupil.
It’s not just hot. The air’s really bad having swirled north up the coast from fires in California and Oregon. The front porch smells like an ashtray and the valley’s a dense curtain of gray murk which induces strange respiratory sensations. We’ve got fires of our own, mixed up with the California and Oregon smoke. Our drafty old windows are a trivial inconvenience considering the horror the fires have wrought down south. People are living out of cars and trucks after their homes were burned to the ground. But even here the smoke is hazardous to breathe, a daunting combination with COVID-19. We’re keeping a couple of old HEPA air purifiers blasting away, nonstop. They’re left over from when Adam was younger and he struggled with asthma (thankfully he outgrew it). The boys haven’t been out of the house for several days on account of the smoke but there’s a chance of precipitation on Monday. The calm of last summer now seems like a mirage. Two out of the past three years, August or September have been smoky.
This frame from a couple weeks ago is when we were looking for a little lake up north that turned out to be more of a marsh. The reflection is the thing, for me. It’s not even part of the focal point but I love how you almost can’t tell what you’re looking at, it’s so still. I was hurrying to take advantage of the stillness before the boys turned the surface of the water into a chaos of concentric rings. There were frogs in here. Oliver likes holding them in the palm of his hand but he’s so afraid of hurting their slippery bodies, they easily jump to their peril. They seem all right (they get away) but they’re not very good at landing on their feet, like the myth about cats.
We’re not usually walking to the gunkholes (quieter) this time of year but the mountains have been chockablock with riff-raff, this summer. Everyone from tattooed hipsters, vanlife scenesters to horny panhellenics have been leaving clumps of toilet paper behind every other tree and campfires smoldering unattended (we’ve found them). Ugh. It’s a bad state of affairs but it’s not really new except the pandemic has heavily concentrated a lot of desperate people into the mountains, magnifying the most clueless of the lot. Some of the carelessness obviously has had devastating consequences. The fires that incinerated the parched countryside on the other side of the Cascades last week were mostly human-caused (and super-fueled by catastrophic climate change-related factors).
postscript: Wrote this on Thursday or Friday, last week. The pall of smoky air over Seattle is still remarkably hazardous. Adam had headaches all day on Sunday and I woke up this morning with a green nose, one can logically assume both may represent some kind of inflammatory response to the icky air. The onshore flow which overnight was supposed to start moving air out of the Sound and produce rain, stalled out over the Pacific. Still, I filled the birdbath for the Scrub jays and watered the flowers, this morning. Haven’t seen the bunny that lives under the shed, for a few days. Adam’s sitting through physics in the dining room and Oliver just gave me the peace sign through a crack in the pocket doors (he’s stationed at the rickety card table in the living room). Remote learning is going to be a lot weirder, harder than I anticipated. The boys have completely different, overlapping schedules full of confusing breaks and stoppages. Oliver has thirty-seven children in his remote-learning class.