Posted tagged ‘darkness’

“Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o’clock is a scoundrel.”

January 29, 2019

Winter is supposed to be cold, but I think we’re on overload. Single digits are predicted for tomorrow night and on Thursday night it will be 11˚. Today is 37˚, and it actually feels warm.

Today is a lazy day. I slept until close to eleven. I took my time reading the papers and had a couple of cups of coffee. The kitchen smelled wonderful between the grinding of the beans and the brewing of the coffee. I am watching television as I write. I admit that I actually stopped watching two science fiction novels on tubi, something I almost never do. One was about the San Andreas fault and the big quake and the total destruction of LA, and the other was about a glacier from Iceland heading toward North America and causing a new Ice Age, but I just found what may be the worst one of all. It is called Star Leaf. The description says, “Three friends fight to stay alive after finding extra-terrestrial marijuana deep in the woods and accidentally provoking the alien forces guarding it.”

Last night I went to get my mail around 11:30. The street was dark except for my outside light. No cars went down the street and no dogs barked. I could have been the main character in a science fiction movie about the world after a cataclysmic event left few survivors.

When I was in high school, I used to walk home at night after evening events. I remember the silence. I remember the circle of light under each street lamp. I could hear my footsteps.

In Ghana, in Accra, the capital, I used to walk back to the Peace Corps hostel at night. I could have taken a taxi, but I liked the walk. I remember men sitting outside on wooden chairs talking in hushed tones. They seemed always to be smoking. We greeted each other as I passed.

I love to sit outside on summer nights. I watch fireflies flit through the trees. From the small pond at the end of the street, I can hear the croaking of frogs. The Katydids add to the chorus. Summer nights are the most glorious of all, nights so filled with life.

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

February 3, 2018

Today is beautiful with a blue sky and the return of the sun, but it’s cold, an uninviting cold. I have no inclination to go outside. The hot air from the furnace is blowing and keeping the house warm. I won’t even get dressed. I’m nice and cozy in my sweatshirt and my flannel pants. It snowed a bit yesterday, enough to cover the walk and my car windows. I’m hoping the sun will melt the windows clean so I won’t have to brush and scrape.

I always think it is the darkness of winter which palls the spirit so I do my best to compensate. I keep white candles lit in the windows, and their light shines across the dark lawn. In the living room, I light lanterns in the corners of the room. Their candles flicker and leave shadows on the walls. On the hearth, twelve tea lights shine in the votives of the long candle holder, and a gourd filled with white lights sits atop firewood in a basket. The room is filled with light and is warm and cozy and welcoming.

I do love New England and am not tempted to leave for sunnier climes. I am tired of winter, but around this time I am always tired of winter. The two years I spent in Ghana gave me an even greater appreciation for the changing seasons I so love. It was always warm there, and I tired of the warmth. I wanted to be cold, to see my breath on a crisp winter’s morning. I missed the beauty of snow and how wonderful it looks as it falls and how breathtaking the world is after a snowstorm. I wanted to welcome spring with all its colors and sights and smells. Where I lived in Ghana had no flowers. It had baobab and pawpaw trees and fields filled with millet and yams. It had grass, tall and green, but it had no flowers. I missed looking for the first spring shoots to appear, for the crocus and the daffodils.

Spring is always a miracle, and I wait for it with great expectations. Every day I check for the tips of shoots in my front garden. When I find one,  I want to dance wearing bright colors and flowers in my hair.

“Nothing in life… Even a few broken bones, is without its reward”

October 9, 2017

The rain started last and has continued intermittently all morning; of course, it started raining when I brought Gracie outside. Isn’t that always the way? The drops were big, and they made a thud sound when they fell on leaves. We both got a little wet.

Last night the arms of Morpheus eluded me. I was awake until almost four. I alternated between reading my new book and watching Netflix where I binged on a documentary about emergency rooms. Each episode highlighted three or four patients. The one that grossed me out was about the guy whose foot had gangrene. It had to be amputated. I watched every episode.

Watching emergency had me thinking about my own medical history. When I was four, I broke my wrist. I was so proud of my cast I showed it off for the camera in a couple of pictures. I have also broken my cheekbone and my shoulder, and I chipped and broke teeth and lost a bit of my lip on one memorable fall down the stairs, which I don’t even remember. My ankle was severely sprained when I fell off the front step after I stepped on an out of place welcome mat, one of the great ironies. That is the entire litany of my injuries which really isn’t too long a list considering how many times I have fallen. I guess I’ve become an expert at mitigating the damage. I’m so proud!

Today I have a list of stuff to do before my guests come tomorrow, but I have to work around the Sox game which may be at one if it isn’t raining in Boston at game time. I figure between innings I can get hurry and some stuff done.

I love rainy days. The darkness in the house is warming in a strange way. I leave candle lights on in the windows and a night light in the bathroom. In this room, the computer is the only light. Gracie is sleeping beside me. She’s snoring. It sounds loud in the quiet house. Yesterday the doors and a couple of windows were open, but today the house is tightly shut to keep the moisture and the cool air at bay. I have to go out later to get a few groceries, and I think it might just be sweatshirt weather.

“The world is quiet here.”

July 24, 2017

Today is rainy and cold. It is sweatshirt weather, closer to early spring than late summer.  My papers were soaked from the middle to the bottom. I have a large front parking space, but the carrier managed to throw them in the only puddle. The plastic cover was useless. Like in the old days, my fingertips had printer’s ink on them.

Gracie had a tough morning. She woke me when she was throwing up. Her head tilt was extreme which caused her dizziness. I grabbed her as she was having trouble walking and put her on the couch. In a few minutes, she had her small tilt back so we went out in the rain while she did her morning business. I got cold waiting.

I find the whole idea daunting, but I have to go out today. From experience I know rainy day roads will be the stuff of nightmares. There will be lines of bumper to bumper cars filled with tourists looking for something to do. They’ll gawk, and their heads will swirl from one side of the road to the other, a mimic of the Regan head moves in The Exorcist. Today will be shop for souvenirs day, maybe a Cape Cod t-shirt or more appropriately for the weather, a sweatshirt. How about some salt water taffy? It is most decidedly not a day to go the movies. That’s for sunny days, for beach days.

I like the quiet of today. I like the dark house. It seems to surround me, to hold me close. I remember being on vacation in Maine one summer when I was young. I remember a rainy day. I wanted quiet from the noise in the house so I took my book and went to the car where I stretched out on my stomach on the back seat. I read all day. The rain on the roof and the windows was soothing. I fell asleep in the car on a rainy day in Maine.

“Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep.”

July 18, 2017

Today was gray when I first woke up. I went back to sleep, and it was sunny when I awoke the second time. I stayed awake. After two coffees and two newspapers, I was ready to face the day. The animals got fed, I took Gracie outside, put dishes away and  cleaned the kitchen counter. That’s it, my chores, for the day. I do have to take Maddie and Gracie to get their nails cut, but that goes into the errand column and is the singular entry in that column. Most of my day will be lazy and quiet.

I take Gracie out for her last outside trip just before I go to bed. It can be any time between 12:30 and 3. It was around 2 this morning. I turn on my outside light, and it is the only light. All of the houses around me are dark. I walk gently and slowly to the driveway feeling with my foot the change from grass to hardtop. It is downhill to the gate and I shuffle my feet for safety. Once Gracie and I are inside the gate, I sit on the deck steps and wait. After she triggers the yard lights, I can see when she’s done and when we can to go back inside to bed. Sometimes I sit outside a bit longer because the night is so lovely. Gracie recognizes my mood and leans against me, her pat me signal. I listen to all the night sounds. I check out the stars. After a while, I drag myself inside to bed.

The night sky in Ghana was ablaze with stars. Nights were never dark. When I slept outside, during the harmattan, I watched for shooting stars. I saw many. Despite the heat, I slept soundly in my back yard. Roosters were my wake-up calls. When I think back, I realize it all seemed ordinary to me, a usual night. When I go back to Ghana, I have the sense that all of it is familiar especially that rooster outside my window crowing as the day dawns.

“Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o’clock is a scoundrel.”

June 16, 2017

The weather is wonky. When I woke up, it was sunny. A little while later it got cloudy then it got sunny again. Now it is back to cloudy and is chilly and windy. It is 64˚ and the intermittent clouds foreshadow the rain predicted for later in the day.

The black and white science fiction movie I just finished watching was awful, which, as you know, is one of my favorite sorts to watch as I find the awfulness of the movie  wonderfully entertaining. From Hell It Came was released in 1957. Doctors are on an island which is suffering from plague and is the site of fallout from a nearby nuclear blast. One native, the prince, Kimo, is accused of murdering his father the chief by Tano, the witch doctor, the real murderer; however, the real reason for the accusation is because Kimo befriended American doctors. Kimo is found guilty and is executed by having a knife driven into his heart. He is boxed and buried where there is radiation which transforms him into Tabanga, the walking tree stump with the perpetual scowl. He even develops legs. Tabanga seeks vengeance. He throws his unfaithful wife into quicksand. Tano decides to kill Tabanga and lures him, or it, into a pit which is set on fire; of course, Tabanga doesn’t die. His bark just takes on a charcoal complexion. I’m going to stop here as I don’t want to be a spoiler, but I will say the rest is perfectly awful.

I brought Gracie outside at 1 this morning. The darkness was almost impenetrable. The only sound was the jingle of Gracie’s tags as she walked. She stopped for a bit in the middle of the driveway and just listened. Hearing nothing, she moved to the gate, and I opened it to let her in the yard. I sat on the steps to the deck. She triggered the lights off the deck, and the yard was lit. I could hear her as she walked through the dead leaves on the ground. Finally, she was ready to go back inside the house. We went out again at 5:30. There was daylight, and there were birds singing. When we got back inside, we both slept until nine. She is sleeping again, and I’m thinking that’s one smart dog.

My mother and father were wonderful actors. They always acted surprised and thrilled by the gifts and cards we’d make for them. I remember popsicle stick creations like a coaster for under a drink, and I remember making a popsicle stick plaque and using macaroni letters on it to express my love. The letters were crooked and you could see all the glue holding them to the sticks, but it never mattered to my parents. They called it a work of art.

My dance card has been fairly empty, but I haven’t minded. I’m enjoying doing nothing. I’ve become quite good at it.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

June 2, 2017

Yesterday stayed warm and beautiful. It didn’t even rain. I was outside reading for a while in the sun, and before I came inside, I emptied the water from the deck furniture covers so they’d dry and be ready to store for the summer. Today is just as lovely as yesterday, sunny and warm. The tiniest of breezes barely stirs the leaves. I have only one item on my to-do list: buy my garden and deck plants.

Gracie slept well last night. I didn’t. First off, she was snoring while I watched TV so I kept nudging her. She got annoyed and went to her crate where she fell asleep. I could hear her snoring from all the way down the hall. At 11:30, I turned off the TV and fell asleep. Around midnight, Gracie woke me up so we went outside. Other than my house, every other house on the street was lost in the darkness. The star on my fence was still lit and illuminated the way to the gate. After we came inside, Gracie got on the couch and fell asleep. I couldn’t get comfortable so I kept moving my feet hoping for a comfy spot. I didn’t find one: not on the floor, the table or the couch under the dog bed. Gracie slept while I tossed and turned. I’m tired. She’s sleeping again.

I wish I could make things, build stuff. I’d make some sort of ride for Gracie to go down the outside deck steps. It would be similar to those people chairs that go upstairs. Gracie would enjoy going and coming whenever the mood strikes her.

Today is national donut day. Dunkin’ Donuts will give out a free donut with each drink. My favorite is a butternut donut, but it goes fast. I sometimes have to make do with a Boston Cream. Make do and Boston cream seem incongruous.

“And in this moment, like a swift intake of breath, the rain came.”

May 25, 2017

The weather is back to dark and damp and really chilly, down to the low 50’s. It is raining now and the rain isn’t going anywhere. It will stay rainy and raw through tomorrow and there may even be thunder. I really need a sweatshirt even in the house.

With all this rain, the grass seed on my lawn is sprouting. The green shoots of flowers have appeared in the front garden. Some have even bloomed into purple and white delicate flowers. I don’t know their names. I never do.

Next week I will purchase the herbs and flowers for my various gardens, pots and window boxes. I have a list of some flowers to buy, all perennials. I know which herbs as I buy the same ones each year, herbs I use in cooking. I love being able to go to the herb garden and snip what I need for dinner. Doing that always makes me feel like the consummate cook and gardener.

I just had my first sign of summer despite the cold and the rain. My guy came and turned on the irrigation and the outdoor shower. I figure it will be a long while before I’ll use the shower outside given the cold and especially because the shower area is a spawn of Satan hangout. It has a huge pile of stripped pine cones. They cover the floor and the bench. This is on my factotum’s to-do list.

Critter Control came yesterday. My cellar is inundated with mice, a few of which have made their way to this floor as well as to upstairs. One lives in a kitchen cabinet. The critter guy left food traps where the mice munch, eat their fill, leave the traps and shortly thereafter depart from this world. The cabinet mouse’s poop in the utensil drawer was the straw.

I did errands yesterday then rewarded myself with Chinese food for dinner. I got jumbo shrimp for a dual purpose. I ate some and shared pieces of the cooked batter with Gracie and some of the shrimp with the cat. I sneaked her pills into Gracie’s portion. She didn’t figure it out, and it was an easy way to give Gracie the pills. We’re having leftover Chinese for lunch today and I’ll trick Gracie again.

It was after midnight when I took Gracie out for the last time before bed. Every house was dark except mine. The house across the street had disappeared. Clouds hid the moon and the stars. I could barely see my driveway, but luckily my star and the white lights off the deck and fence still shined and lit the way to the backyard.

It’s time to finish. I’m getting hungry.

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”

January 30, 2017

I woke up in the darkness of this cold early morning. I believe winter is most defined by cold darkness. I can hear the heat trying to blow away the coldness of the house. I am sleeping on the couch: actually, we are sleeping on the couch. Gracie is better, but this is the easiest way to keep an eye on her. I heard Maddie running up and down the stairs and across the floor. I wondered why, but cats aren’t easily explained.

When I went to get the papers, I gasped from the cold. I saw my windshield was coated in ice. I think that’s the first time this winter or maybe I missed the other frosty mornings by sleeping in late. The brown grass on my front lawn also had a coat of frost. Winter has made a grand appearance.

In Ghana, in the Upper Regions, this time of year is the harmattan. The days are hot and dry. The wind blows sand which obscures the sun. Day after day is the same. The nights, though, are wonderful. The temperature drops to the low 70’s which doesn’t sound cold, but the days are over 100˚ so 70˚ is chilly. I had a wool blanket on my bed to keep me warm. My students wore layers in the morning. My lips chapped and my heels cracked from the dryness, but feeling cold for a while was worth all of that. I just have to remember that feeling, that love of the cold, when the frost has to be scraped off the windshield, the house heat is blasting, I’m wearing a sweatshirt and socks to stay warm and an afghan on my knees is comforting.

Gracie and I are going out today. She will wear her coat for the first time this winter. I’ll just wear my hoodie.

“When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”

August 22, 2016

Today is perfect in every way. It is sunny, breezy and dry. To top it off, it rained last night. I heard it against the window, a heavy rain. I don’t know how long the storm lasted but the deck was still a bit damp this morning. The weatherman says today and tomorrow will be beautiful with cool nights, even down to the low 60’s.

When summer starts to wind down, it seems to die quickly. The darkness sneaks in a few minutes at a time until we realize how early we need lights. We don’t think about the cool nights as we’re glad for a reprieve from the hot days, but then the days get cooler. Labor Day arrives, schools open and summer is unofficially over.

I wish summer were longer. When I was a kid, I wanted it to last forever. My days were filled with bike riding, berry picking and sleeping in the backyard. We had picnics in the woods. Bedtime was late. Dinner was casual. The clock had stopped controlling our lives.

I don’t wear a watch. The last time I remember wearing one was in Ghana, probably the one place where you didn’t need a watch. When I taught, tbells started and ended classes and every room had a giant clock so a watch was superfluous. I’m retired. I don’t clock watch unless I have an appointment. I have no bedtime. I go when I’m tired. No alarm jars me awake. I open my eyes, stretch, say good morning to Fern and Gracie at the foot of my bed, figure out what day of the week it is and if I have anything on my dance card then I get up, and it’s time for coffee and the newspapers.