Posted tagged ‘pine pollen’

“There are mysteries buried in the recesses of every kitchen – every crumb kicked under the floorboard is a hidden memory. But some kitchens are made of more. Some kitchens are everything.”

May 25, 2018

Summer has returned. Today is already warm and sunny with a slight breeze. The pine pollen is starting. I saw a thin film of yellow on my car when I got the papers. I’ll have to keep my windows closed for a while or the pollen will cover every surface in my house. Even the deck gets a layer of pollen so I leave foot prints when I walk.

My backyard is filled with pine trees. Come to find out they have both male and female pine cones. I had no idea pine cones have genders. I never gave thought to the difference in the sizes of the cones. Now I know the smaller cones are the male cones. They produce the pollen. So, if your car is yellow, blame a male.

I did every errand yesterday. It was a triumphant day. I no longer have to skulk around at the dump.

The plumber is here. He has fixed the outside faucet leak and now has to leave to get a part for the shower. He called from his truck. His name is Doug. He saw Maddie and told me he had a cat who lived to be 20. He said he cried when it died. I like Doug.

I remember the small kitchen in the first place we lived in Stoneham. When I close my eyes, I can see the whole room. The door to the yard was on the back wall. To its left was the sink, fridge, stove and counter tops. There was a small window over the sink. To the right of the door was another window and the table and chairs were against that window wall. The kitchen was so small two was a crowd. We lived there until after my sister was born. We then moved down the street to a bigger place, one with 3 bedrooms. Until I bought my own house, that is where I lived for the longest time.

My kitchen has gadgets, things like a strawberry huller, a jalapeño corer, a corn zipper, a mandolin, three different size food processors, a panini grill and a mixer. I have actually used all but the jalapeño corer. That was just bought. It is a funky looking tool.

The only tools I remember my mother using when I was a kid were the hand potato masher, the peeler, the cookie press and her standing mixer. She seldom baked from a package. When I was older, out of college older, I loved working in the kitchen with her. I was her sous chef. My favorite time was around Christmas. We listened to music while we worked. We talked and we laughed. Those are cherished memories kept close to my heart.

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”

May 28, 2016

My little nap seems to have done the trick. I fell asleep right away as the bedroom was still cool, and the outside world was quiet. The only sounds were from the chimes hanging off branches in the backyard and Gracie’s deep breathing. She had joined me for a nap. The two cats stayed downstairs for their naps.

Today is a perfect day. It is in the high 70’s, bright with sun and there’s a breeze to cool the air just a bit. We are 10 or 15 degrees cooler than Boston and a whole cooler than the western part of the state.

The deck is back to normal. All the furniture is in its usual place. Putting out the do-dads is all that’s left. When I say do-dads, I mean the rug, all the candles in the trees and on the tables, the window boxes, the flower pots, the prayer flags and the pictures for the wall. The shelf and the flower pots need to be repainted. I have new prayer flags and a couple of new strings of lights.

Yesterday while I was sitting in my car waiting for my friends, the wind blew, and I could see the pollen almost as dense as fog blowing off the tree. My car is covered in the greenish yellow pine pollen. I hate this season. When it gets hot, you don’t dare open windows as everything will be pollen covered. It’s like the harmattan in Ghana when the blowing wind brought dust from the Sahara, and it covered all the surfaces in my house. Dusting was a lesson in futility. It is the same with the pollen.

I drove my friends to the Logan airport bus because they were leaving for England early last evening. When I got home, the phone rang. It was Tony telling me Clare had left her pocketbook in the car, the pocketbook with the passports and plane tickets. Could I please hurry as the bus would be leaving in about 15 minutes, 10 minutes short of the drive. I drove like a maniac. The slowest I went was 75, and I cursed the car in front of me which kept me to that crawl. I swear G-force acceleration distorted my face. I drove into the lot and there they were, the last people. They smiled and threw their arms up when they saw my car. The driver was just putting the last piece of luggage in the bay. My timing was perfect. I handed them the handbag and Tony asked Clare if that was her bag. I wanted to say something sarcastic like I have 15 others you can choose from, but I figured it wasn’t the right time. Their gratitude was profuse. They immediately gave their luggage to the driver and got on the bus. Gracie and I went much slower on the ride home.

“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.”

May 18, 2015

The morning is a bit chilly, quite different from yesterday when we sat on the deck until 8 o’clock. It was still warm enough even when the sun was down. The pine pollen has turned my car from red to yellow-green. Here in the house I have two opened windows and the pollen has covered furniture and even the floors, but I don’t care. I like the cool air.

The cape has more scrub pine than any other trees. They are ugly trees with scraggy branches. Their bark looks old, wrinkly. My back and front yards have several pine trees. They don’t weather well. Every year the winter takes down a few more branches, and the last couple of years my landscaper has cut down a couple of tall, dead pine trees. When a pine tree dies, no needles remain to soften the look. It resembles the Halloween silhouette of a black tree with grabbing branches.

I like my pine trees despite their ugliness. They shade the yard. They give me a sense of privacy on the deck. At night, when the dog’s lights are triggered, they are tall, thin shadows across the yard. They are quintessentially Cape Cod. I guess the pollen is a small price to pay.

The cape fields are filled with wild flowers and berry-bearing trees. Closer to the water are the beach plum trees. In my younger, forage from the sea and land days, I used to pick beach plums to make jelly. The trees are not easy to find and every forager protects secret spots. Wild blueberry bushes give fruit to eat out of hand. I find not so many make it to my bucket. Along the sides of the road are flowers growing wild, spreading and multiplying themselves. One of my favorites is the thistle. I want to stop and dig a few for my garden, but I haven’t had the nerve.

In my front yard are three wild rose bushes. They flower once a year with small white flowers. The trees grow haphazardly and I’ve often caught myself on the thorny bushes. It seems the more you cut and trim the more they grow. Wild rose bushes are everywhere, and when they are in bloom, it always seems as if the cape is covered in white, delicate flowers.

This is an empty dance card week. I have laundry to do, Peapod to order and flowers and herbs to plant. Nothing else is planned except, of course, Gracie and I will have a dump run.

“Long live your laundry!”

June 2, 2014

Wonder of wonders: my first laundry load is in the dryer and the second is in the washing machine. No longer does the bag of laundry lying there by the cellar door haunt me. My victory lap was well-earned. Tomorrow, though, I change my bed and the laundry bag gets filled anew. It is an endless cycle. Blame Adam and Eve who in being thrown out of the garden had to drop the leaves and don clothing.

It’s a sprawl in the sun on the rug by the door morning for the cats, proof that spring is finally entrenched. Last night stayed in the 50’s. Today is lovely, a word not often heard anymore, but it fits perfectly.

It is is plant and flower buying day, one of favorite days of the year. I’ll shop for herbs and veggies for the two small gardens and for flowers to fill the deck window boxes and clay pots, some of which need replacing. All this shopping frenzy is in preparation for tomorrow, opening day. My factotum, Skip, is coming to clean the deck and decorate it and the yard for summer, weed the two gardens then plant the herbs and veggies, fill all the window boxes and pots which sit on the deck rail with new soil and both flowers and herbs then finally de-spider and clean the outside shower. The deck is covered in pine pollen so it will not only need sweeping but also washing. The fence around the veggie garden needs some work as a few of the fence boards broke over the winter and Gracie has dug a few holes in the garden. She is a champion hole-digger.

My dryer has just announced the first load is dry and ready for folding and the second load is set to take its place. I do feel accomplished.

“But I’m really enjoying my retirement. I get to sleep in every day. I do crossword puzzles and eat cake.”

May 31, 2014

The wind is blowing and even the tree trunks are swaying. The sun is more decoration than warmth. The high today will be in the low 60’s and tonight we’ll go down to the 40’s. The house is cold every morning. I still need my sweatshirt. The windows are closed because of the cold and because of the pine pollen. My car is covered in that yellow-green pollen. When it rains, small puddles are ringed with pine pollen while bigger puddles have a slick of pollen not unlike an oil slick, just a different color. The wind blows the pollen in small clouds. I sneeze a lot.

I’m at the stage of my life where sitting around isn’t boring. I don’t have to accomplish anything. I don’t need to be busy. The days go quickly regardless of what I do or don’t do. Some days my bursts of energy have me dusting and polishing. I do a few loads of wash. Gracie and I go to the dump. I buy some groceries. That is my busiest sort of day. It merits an afternoon nap.

When I worked, I got to school at 6:20 and got home around 4 which left little time to do anything but read the mail, have dinner, watch a TV show or two and go to bed early as the alarm rang at 5:00. In winter I was a mole and seldom saw the sunshine except through a window. The weekends were for doing all the chores and errands. I grocery shopped, changed my bed, did laundry, cleaned a room or two and went to the dump on Sunday. If I did anything fun, it was usually Saturday night. Back then I never stopped to think how narrow my life was. I was too busy with every day.

When I was getting ready to retire, I was asked if I had any plans on how to fill my days. I didn’t. It was enough knowing I no longer had to set the alarm and get up at an ungodly hour. I loved being retired from the first day. If I had nothing to do, I was fine with that. Each day was a blank piece of paper ready to be filled or even left blank. This summer it will be ten years since I retired. They have been remarkable years.

“I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire… mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?”

May 27, 2014

Yesterday was a weird weather day. It was cloudy then sunny then rainy then cloudy and rainy again. We ate outside under the umbrella. I could hear the heavy drops over my head and loved the sound. The rain didn’t last long, but the clouds hung around the rest of the evening. Today is really warm and the sun is playing hide and seek: disappearing and then returning. The prediction is for rain and the cloudy skies make me believe it.

The Cape was filled this weekend and the line of cars waiting to leave over the Sagamore Bridge stretched for miles. The paper today was filled with glowing predictions for the summer based on this weekend. I groaned a little, but that’s the price to pay for living here. I knew it going in so any complaints are just from frustration, useless at best.

My world is turning green from pine pollen. My voice is already raspy and I cough. The windows are closed as I’m trying to keep the pollen at bay, but I am Sisyphus with a dust cloth instead of a rock.

I grew up in summer darkness. My mother kept the shades down all day so the house would stay cooler. We didn’t even have a fan to push the night’s hot air around, but most times we kids were so exhausted from playing all day sleep came easily despite the heat.

I have these wonderfully funny memories of being wakened up at night from the bed rocking and finding my father standing on my bed trying to keep his balance as he chased down mosquitos on the ceiling with a newspaper in his hand. My father was a bit obsessive sometimes and flies and mosquitoes were among his nemeses. He wielded the fly swatter with perfection. The fly would be stationary, and my father with swatter in position would sneak up on it, swat it and then throw away what was left of the fly. Sometimes he’d have to clean the ceiling or the lampshade or worst of all, the kitchen counter. He kept count of his triumphs, “Got it,” was his summer refrain.

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”

May 28, 2013

I’ve returned from my trip to the big city. Traffic was light so I had nothing to curse about.

Today is another beautiful day, as perfect as yesterday, our reward for the rain and the cold. It is lovely, warm and sunny, but the weatherman says a heat wave is on its way. The other night it was in the 30’s and now we can expect the high 80’s. I had the heat on the other morning for a short while and soon enough I’ll be cranking up the air-conditioner.

My red car is lime green as is the deck. Both are covered in pine pollen. The deck is so covered I can see Gracie’s paw prints and my footprints. A cloud of green pollen wafts off the pine trees into the air when any breeze blows. If this were an old sci-fi movie, it would be radiation of sorts released into the air by aliens (I just couldn’t resist). I have only one window opened, the one in my bedroom, because I don’t want every surface in the house covered in green. I’m enjoying the sun, but a good heavy rain storm is great to clear the trees; however, I don’t think there are any in the forecast. I’ll just have to survive the green invasion of the pine pollen.

When I was a kid, this time of year was one of my favorites. I could start riding my bike to school. The to school was all downhill from my street to a smaller hill, more of an incline, around the corner then a straight shot to school. The bike racks were wooden and under trees in the school yard. I didn’t have a lock, none of us did. We just pushed our front tires into the rack and there the bikes stayed all day. The ride home was a bit more strenuous. The incline was an easy ride, but the hill to my house wasn’t. I’d start at the bottom sitting in my seat then I’d have to stand to pedal harder. I’d try and try to get to my house without getting off, but this time of year I didn’t make it. I’d have to get off about half-way up, when the hill got steeper, and walk my bike the rest of the way. Soon enough, though, with all that riding, my legs got stronger and finally I could ride right up to grassy hill in front of my house, the grassy hill sacred to my father. I’d push the bike up the hill and around the back. That time of year the bike stayed outside in the backyard unless it rained. I’d lean the bike against the rail, pull my books out of the basket on the front, run inside, change into my play clothes and go back outside to ride some more. Spring and early summer days were the best for bike riding.