Encroachment

31 07 2012

This morning finds me on the upper back porch, at the ancient sewing desk (you should see the wheel-apparatus on this thing) I scavenged years ago from an apartment someone abandoned in the old neighborhood, with a laptop, an editing project, a desk-chair wheeled out from inside (“inside” now bears so much rearranged furniture and construction debris that the chair would never manage to be wheeled back through to the office if it wanted to, so it might live here forever), and an oil lamp that hasn’t been lit in a year.  But any day now it could be, and I like the promise in the shape of its hurricane bulb, as well as the remembering in the soot at the neck.

Back porch maples and summer morning light.

All morning (at least since we two got back from taking a cool, shady morning walk through the leafy uphill parts of the neighborhood) I’ve been here listening to the wind toss the maples around (and to engines and sirens go past on the small streets in the neighborhood and the bigger, more emergency-inclined ones downhill, occasionally punctuated by the muted growl of an aggressive downshift from a truck on the highway).  For a while, there was a kitten on my foot and a cat sprawled out across the floor; now the kitten is practicing his sprawling and the cat has disappeared, and in between there was a half-hour they both spent playing together in the new bathroom, although I’m sure if you asked, Picabo would deny this.  She hates Gustav, she hates us for bringing him home, and she’s so desperate to run away that our back-porch screen door is half-covered in packing tape and a Little Caesars pizza box to keep her from leaping to freedom through the gigantic hole she tore in the screen.  Her territory compromised, apparently, by the intrusion, she’s decided to leave us.

I’m soon going to have to do the same thing with this territory; most of the day’s editing will end up happening in bed with the lap-desk and the A/C on, because it’s climbing back into the 90s, the new bedroom is on the warm side of the house (a fact I will no doubt be delighted by come winter), and the sun stealing across the desk would burn my hands if I stayed too long to let it.  In an hour or two, the sun itself will be too high and the porch will be back in shadow, but by then it will be too hot for just the fan to compensate for the internal space-heater I’m carrying.  For the past almost two hours, though, this space has been idyllic: breezy, perfect in temperature, awash with the leaves’ whispers and the rising-falling serenades of cicadas and crickets and whatever other unseen denizens are singing in the trees.  And I’m trying to be mindful–quickly while I can–of these little moments of bliss and stillness, learning to recognize and appreciate them when they’re here, regardless of the fact that some encroachment or another will always take them away again, not so I can remember them happening when I’m forced to live without them, but so that I can continue to recognize them even when they’re shorter and fewer and farther between.

Picabo, who snarls every time I pet her if she can even see the smaller cat, is modeling how not to respond to encroachment.  She’s being just hateful about it: if she can’t have things the way she likes them best, she will hate all things.  Even the people who love her, and the small cat who wants to, and who comes up at least once a day to quietly sniff at her face, with no pounce in his demeanor at all, as if to say “How about today?  Can you love me yet?”  And she snarls, and usually swats at him, and he goes away, but he tries again tomorrow.  I do not hate the sunshine creeping across my desk, even though it’s going to snatch this moment from me and send me off the do my work somewhere far less grounding (I need these things, these eternal, simple nature-things: sun-on-leaves, waving-and-whispering, the occasional chattering of birds, the oscillating buzz of bug-song, the steaming green smell of chlorophyll rising into the warming day).  And I will likewise have to learn–am trying to get a jump on learning now–not to hate the way the coming creature will creep across the hours of my every day (days somehow already so full that I surrender them, exhausted, at 8 or 9 o’clock each night; days that promise to get ever-so-much full-er, and so much longer).

I don’t get to keep this space all day, any more than I’ll get to keep the ways I choose of spending my time (even the simple, responsible ones that dominate the hours anyway, like choosing to stay on top of the dishes and laundry!), but I can be glad of it, and let it lead me into more realistic ways of being responsible (forget “on top of”–learn to settle with “making progress every day in moving the piles along”; forget “chapters”–learn to edit–and write–in lucky sweeps of sentences).  We’ll figure it out, me and this kid, “it” the moving-forward of piles and the managing of days (and of course, Matt will do a great deal of the figuring and the making-things-happen and tying all the ends together–I don’t mean to leave him out of this reflection, but he’s been doing house-renovating for 2 weeks and there’s plenty left to go, so he’s taking the day off today, playing on the internet and lounging, punctuated by brilliant moments of making me iced-decaf-tea-lattes, and I’m the one with the 50 pages to edit before the day is out and the one who, come the Autumn, which is not far off now that tomorrow’s August, will be at home with the piles, and the hours to manage).

Before the full-scale encroachment commences, we’ve got a bathroom to finish, and a nursery to excavate (what progress we had made on that project has been thoroughly buried by 2 weeks’ worth of construction debris, dust, tools, spare parts, and, sensibly, layers of sheets over the actual baby-stuff in there we thought to protect).  I’d also like to buy Picabo a decent cat-tree, if we’re not too far over budget on this bathroom project by the time we’re done (it’s still a bit too soon to calculate), because while we chose the encroachment of the creature coming, and I chose to work out where I knew the sun would come, she had no say in this kitten business at all (and I don’t dare hope for a moment that they won’t both be offended–her, potentially, pushed off the edge far enough to start breaking glass windows instead) when I up the ante and bring home a human baby!), and deserves some new place of her own to retreat to (“decent” meaning one that has at least 2 high-up cat-beds so that the interloper can at most steal one at a time and leave her her own, and preferably with ladders or angles suitable for leaping, since her tubby belly doesn’t climb so well these days).  Hopefully, the carving out of physical spaces will be a good beginning, and will lead to the carving out of temporal spaces (at least as the human interloper gets old enough to be able to survive them) for pile-moving, moment-appreciating, and the other little necessities of trying to maintain–or in some cases create–adult sanity (and some level of family income).

We’ll see.  August will bring us plenty of heat, yet, but this breeze foretells the slow advance of the coming of the change-of-season, and this year, the season will change everything.  For Matt, it’s a new school year in the standard sense, marching this way (classes to plan, students to meet, rhythms to fall back into), starting in September.  For me, it’s a whole new school-of-life slouching my way, although whether rough beast to Bethlehem or not remains to be seen.  Two things are sure: it’s coming, and the usual school supplies will certainly not be what I’ll be needing this next semester.

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2 responses

31 07 2012
Emily

I feel more peaceful this morning just from reading your words — you have the gift of soothing words. That gift will serve you well in your new “school of life” course; such words will need to be spoken not only to the wee one, but to her mother, as well. Blessings as you enjoy these last sacred days … there is more joy and life ahead of you than you could ever dream.

31 07 2012
tyra

Thank you ever so much for the kind reply this morning, and the smile you’ve brought to my face. Just remind me of all this peace and kindness when my post in a few months just look like me inarticulately crying AAAACK! and using punctuation to make weepy faces, please. 🙂

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