About 11 a.m. last Friday, the long-awaited rain arrived. I slipped out to the deck in stocking feet and brought in the faded geraniums and the little ice cream table and chairs, wooden parts covered with old oilcloth but not protected from hard rain.
In spring I’d had plans for that little seating spot – intending to ignore the looming three-story buildings staring down at us and have tea there or eat lunch – but a summer of travel and too much heat foiled that plan. Finally, after hot weeks and weeks of drought, and days of thick forest-fire smoke, the air is chilly and cleansed by rain.
Autumn beauty found its way nonetheless. In sunshine tourists gaped and stopped to photograph the maple trees’ royal red and gold, and in gloom and rain, color-washed leaves brighten the sidewalks. Flowers soldiered on – one cosmos plant in a particularly happy spot is more than two feet tall and wide and blooms still with magenta good cheer. And, discovering beauty and interest I’d always overlooked, I painted the gone-by golden stems and seed heads of meadow grasses.
I like what Katherine Swift writes in her book “The Moreville Year” in a chapter titled: “A Little Vase of Flowers”… “There is something very touching about flowers seen like this: just two or three blooms, picked at random, not ‘arranged.’ They still seem part of the garden.” These late bloomers, wonderful to paint, speak of resilience, a final burst of defiance in the face of the inevitable.
The shape of the seasons becomes unfamiliar. It used to be you could talk about this happening in January and that happening in July, but those sureties no longer hold. So, all one can do is pay attention to what is. And this peculiar weather seems part of the general uncertainty and fear in the air – political tension, war, new variants. Are we all tired from holding those fears at bay?
And sometimes I wonder if the world has always seemed so unsteady to people of a certain age. My father-in-law in his last year was reading a book titled, “How They Died.” I was young with a new baby and dismissed it. But now I find myself wanting to read about “how they live” in last years – specially the writers and artists I admire – the ones who keep a-going with work.
And wet streets and dark days lead me to thoughts of grandchildren and holiday plans, storing the geraniums and pumpkins for winter, making a pie, and being excited to plant bulbs for spring.