Posted tagged ‘Sunlight’

“Memory is the space in which a thing happens for a second time.”

February 9, 2018

The sky is cloudy but bright. It is only 31˚, but the next three days will be warm. The prediction is for 48˚ each day. That’s almost tanning weather, no sunscreen necessary. Maybe a road trip is in order to take advantage of the warmth. I’ll open my car window and take in the sweet smell of the clean air.

Since the winter solstice, we have gained an hour of sunlight. It makes me hopeful that winter’s end is not so far away. February, though, is sometimes the snowiest month. I’ll just keep my knit hat and mittens handy.

In summer, the trees surrounding my deck are lit with candles hanging off the branches. In the backyard, solar lights shaped like flowers glow and a few strands of white lights are twisted around tree trunks. I always think my yard a fairyland, especially in July when the fireflies return and twinkle among the trees. Now, in the bleak winter, the one strand of lights around the deck fence has stopped shining. I need to replace it. I always love looking out the back window and seeing those lights.

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 front windows, and their light shines across the dark lawn. This year I left my Christmas lights lit in the front. One is a giant star with a trail of lights. The others are multicolored. My neighbor across the street has called to thank me for leaving the lights shining. She said she loves looking out the window at my house.

Winter is my time of memories, of introspection. I don’t add much to my story, but I recall to mind the best parts. I smile a lot at the images in my mind’s eye. My journeys, my explorations, are the brightest memories.

During my travels, I learned a few things. I hate washing clothes by hand. I decided that for any trip of great length I’d pack ragtag underwear which I can just throw away. It isn’t a big deal for me to find any. I can just check my bureau drawer. The rest of my clothes can get so grungy they can walk away by themselves. I won’t care. I’m not washing them. I learned never to ask what I’m eating.  Many of the traditional foods are pets here, like the guinea pig in Ecuador. I think I can eat just about anything as long as I don’t know what it is and it isn’t slimy. Bras are a great place for hiding money. I had my pocket picked when I was at a train station in Ghana. I’d like that thief to try it now. Toilet paper, always carry toilet paper. Sometimes you get stuck and have to rush, and those hole in the ground toilets don’t have toilet paper. Just imagine. The middle of the bus and a seat near the window are usually the best. The aisle fills with standing people who hold on for dear life as the bus goes around corners but sometimes they fall, into the aisle seats. The front and the back of the bus are where people sit with their chickens or goats. Eat where there is a line, especially street food. Don’t shy away. It’s sometimes the best and is usually the cheapest. If everything pales compared to home, just stay home.

“In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.”

November 12, 2017

The sky is cloudy again, and it’s chilly, low 40’s chilly. My heat is on almost constantly. Nothing is moving. I can see the backyard through my den window and not a branch, even the smallest, is moving. I’m glad for the stillness. It helps to keep the cold at bay. There is a chance of rain later.

Gracie and I have to go to Agway. I am out of canned dog food, and that’s a calamity. I also need to buy biscuits, dog and cat treats, cat food and bird seed. Shopping at Agway is, for me, never an inexpensive stop. My animals expect and do get the best. Gracie is pickier than the cat and drives me crazy when she turns her face away from the treat I’m offering and holds out for something better which she usually gets. It is too late now to alter the behavior I have fostered in Gracie, the spoiled dog.

This morning I enjoyed biscotti with my coffee. It was, of course, chocolate biscotti. My  mother wasn’t a coffee drinker except with biscotti which she loved. When she came to visit, I’d give her a half cup of coffee purely for dunking purposes. One Christmas she even made her own biscotti, and it was delicious. She kept a few but sent most of it home with me as the rest of the family didn’t eat biscotti. What fools they were!!

The cloudy days make me feel languid. I need a bit of sunlight, a natural pick-me-up. It is so easy to love a sunny day and feel like conquering the world; instead, I just sit here hoping for a sudden jolt of energy.

Having lived here for so long, I am familiar with all the quirks of my house. I can identify the sounds. That’s the ice maker adding water or dropping cubes in the tray.  I can hear the clicks of the furnace before the heat blasts. The thump is Maddie jumping off the couch or from one step to another. I used to hear the scurry off the mice in the eaves, but the exterminator took care of that. Just a few minutes ago, I heard an unfamiliar sound. I stopped typing to listen. The sound had a rhythm, a rat-tat. I knew it had to be a woodpecker. I banged the wall, but the sound stopped for only a minute. I had to go out to the deck to scare the bird away. The sound has stopped.

Tonight is game night and football night as the Pats are playing the Broncos. We’ll all be watching. My sister in Colorado is working on her football game menu. The Pats never do well in Denver, but this year Denver is not doing well. They are last in their conference with a 3 and 5 record. The Pats are first in theirs with a 6 and 2 record. The Pats are favored. I hope that comes to fruition.

My dance card is not empty for a change thanks to game night.

“The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.”

October 16, 2016

Warm days are coming back starting tomorrow. That’s a good thing as last night was cold. When I woke up, the house was 61˚ so I gave in and turned on the heat. It’s cozy now.

The sunlight seems sharper this time of year. In summer the light touches everything. In the fall the light is more focused. Summer light is scattered and strewn about. It shines through the leaves. This time of year the light is behind the leaves as if the sun is getting stingier. Winter is not so far away.

I wore socks yesterday. My sandals are back in the closet. Just a short while ago I was sweating from the heat of Ghana where the coolest day was 95˚. Now I’m staying warm by wearing a sweatshirt inside the house. I’m just fine with that.

I don’t want to watch the news anymore. I don’t want to hear about the election, about drug tests, sexual assault or threats of violence. We have always taken pride in the peaceful transition of government. I’m afraid that will no longer be true.

Yesterday I treated myself to lunch and a whoopie pie for dessert. I had my favorite panini: avocado, cheddar, bacon with horseradish sauce on focaccia bread. The whoopie was filled with cream. It was the perfect finish for the meal.

My sister makes whoopie pies all the time. Her kids, a little old to be called kids but I still do, ask for whoopie pies on their birthdays instead of cake. The recipe is an old one from my other sister who first made the whoopies in home ec class in elementary school. The whoopies from that recipe are the best ever. My sister hasn’t yet passed along that recipe though she has been asked by her daughter-in-law. It has now become a family heirloom, a secret recipe.

Tonight is game night. I haven’t won recently. I’m hoping that trend will end.

“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”

October 25, 2012

Mornings this time of year are chilly but not yet cold. I could easily see Gracie’s breath when she was sitting on the top back step surveying her yard. She looked more like a steam engine than a dog. When I went to get the paper, I saw my neighbor, and we chatted a bit. Both of us agreed winter is out least favorite season.

When I was a kid, on mornings like today, we used to pretend we were smoking cigarettes and blowing out the smoke. We’d hold the pretend cigarettes in pretend cigarette holders between our fingers, and in exaggerated gestures we’d take puffs and let out the smoke. Our conversation was lah-di-dah. I think a young Bette Davis would have recognized us.

This time of year my mother and I would argue about what I’d wear to school over my uniform. She wanted me warm in the chilly mornings for the walk to school so she insisted on a jacket, useless in the warmth of the afternoons. I knew I’d shove the jacket into my school bag or tie it around my waist for the walk home. I wanted to wear a sweater. We’d go back and forth and many mornings my mother just gave up. Her parting words were, “Don’t blame when you get cold.”

Cool summer mornings are my favorites but mornings this time of year are a close second. I love the way the sharp sunlight stabs through the leaves picking and choosing places to shine. The light is brightest at the end of the branches facing the house. The rest of the tree is in shadow. Maybe it’s a metaphor for this time of year.

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.”

September 24, 2012

It was dark when I woke up, but the sky has brightened with morning. The papers were just delivered. Gracie is sleeping on the couch. She doesn’t like early mornings. I’m starting to dislike them myself.

A few errands need to be done today, and I want to stop at the farm stand for those mums, a couple of pumpkins and some apple cider. I love the colors of autumn, and I love them in the garden best of all.

Carving pumpkins was a Saturday event. My mother would put newspapers on the kitchen table, and she’d do the cutting of the pumpkin. Our job was to clean out the guts. We never thought cleaning the guts was gross. To us, it was the perfect kid job. We’d reach in and get a handful of pumpkin insides mixed with seeds, make appropriate noises and pretend to toss the guts at each other. I remember strands of pumpkin guts hanging from my hand and that would always send us into peals of loud laughter. It’s a kid thing.

I know winter is waiting its turn, but I can’t help but love these crisp mornings. The air smells fresh and the humidity is gone. On the morning of the first frost, I love to walk across the white topped grass and hear the crunch of my footsteps, but I’m not wishing for that frost to come too soon. I’m perfectly willing to wait.

The sun still warms the day but casts shadows different than the summer sun. The leaves are dappled, no longer bright with  morning sunlight. The afternoons die quickly. I don’t guess the right time anymore. I always think it later than it is. My mind still has its summer setting.

“I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.”

November 6, 2011

This morning the frost was on the pumpkin, the lawn and the windshield. The tips of the grass glistened in the sun and cracked underfoot when I went to the driveway for the papers. Before I left for breakfast, I had to get the scraper from the trunk and scrape the windshield. It was the first frost of the season. I could see my breath in the morning light.

The day warmed quickly, and by the time I’d finished breakfast, it was already in the 40’s. Now it is 51° and feels almost balmy. Everything is relative.

The sun looks different in the fall and winter. From here in the den, I can see it shining through the oak tree just as it shined all summer, but it looks cold, almost wan. It provides only light now and even its light lasts just a short part of the day. I try and keep the darkness at bay. On the deck is a small fir topiary which stays lit all night. In three different parts of the yard, white lights are lit from six to midnight. They give a bit of comfort and shine through even the darkest of nights and are my reminder that winter is but one of the seasons.

I’m wearing my warm slippers, part of my cold weather uniform. Nothing is worse than cold feet. Cold hands are easier to get warm, but cold feet seem to chill the whole body. My socks have come out of storage as have my winter shoes. My sister and I were talking last night. She asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said I had no idea. She asked if I needed shoes. I said I had my winter shoes, still good for five or more years, and my summer sandals, also good for a few more years so I was covered for shoes. I thought about it later and chuckled a bit. My life is two pairs of shoes, and they are more than sufficient.

“Behold congenial Autumn comes, the Sabbath of the Year.”

September 20, 2010

The morning light was different today. A few dark clouds bathed the deck in shadows while sunlight glinted through tree branches in another part of the yard. I was chilly standing on the deck so I came inside and got a sweatshirt then went back out and enjoyed a bit more of the morning. The windows are still closed, but the back door is open and sunlight is pouring onto the floor where Fern is sleeping. Gracie is having her morning nap on the couch.

I haven’t much going on this week. Actually, I have nothing going on, not a single event planned. My dance card is totally empty, and I can’t remember the last time that happened. I do need to get an allergy shot, but I don’t count a shot as an event. Wednesday is supposed to be in the high 70’s so I’m thinking I’ll pencil in a ride with the lovely Miss Gracie. We haven’t done one in a while.

The other day I dug my slippers out of the debris at the bottom of my closet. My feet were cold, a sure indicator of the changing of the seasons.

Here in New England every season has its own wardrobe. Fall is a warm sweater. It’s shoes and socks and cozy clothes for the chilly nights. Winter is the layered season, a sweater and a warm shirt under a heavy jacket. It’s mittens and hats and fleece lined boots. Winter is a blanket on the bed. Spring is a bit of winter and a spark of summer. It’s a warm jacket on a chilly day or a lighter one on a sunny day. It’s an open window and fresh air. Summer is sandals and short sleeves. It’s cotton weather. It’s a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Today is a long sleeve shirt day but still a sandal day.

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