I love August. I love the lushness of it, and knowing that it is the last hurrah before winter makes it even sweeter. I love the overgrown bushes, the fish and the berries, and the flowers spilling out of the crowded window boxes. I love the bolting chard in the garden, the tangle of sweet peas and nasturtiums, the seed-headed fireweed, and bright raspberries and cherries bursting on canes and trees. I even love the thigh-high weeds and beach grasses. The abundance of it is astounding. I feel rich just looking at the counter lined with jars of salmon.
Yesterday morning I looked out the window and saw water spurting and my son and husband shoveling frantically. "What's that?" I hollered. "Turn off the washing machine," my husband said, "now!." A few minutes later when I got outside and checked the damage for myself and asked how long the little sewer creek had spilled across the lawn, my husband said, "it was just gray water." My son said, "Mom, sometimes the planet has to suffer." Seriously, it was only a minute, not enough to make mud, and it went toward to the driveway not the beach.
Well, of one moose and one man on a bicycle-- my husband. We were out for our morning ride along the Haines road next to the Chilkat River. There was fog, and no real wind to speak of. There had been a brown bear in the neighborhood the night before, and rumors of more on Cemetery Hill, so I was a little more aware than usual at 5:30 or so in the morning, and paying attention to bear poop on the road at 2-mile, and 4-mile, and 6-mile. You get the idea. Then we see a big brown thing on the side of the road at about 9.5-mile.
Yes, Papa Bob swam the Hudson River, and is alive to tell about it. (Although he hasn't told me.) My sister Kathleen emailed that he made it, even with his wet suit on backwards and goggles filled with river water. That's all I know. In Haines, it was another gorgeous day and hard to stay inside knowing that the fireweed are already seed, and winter is coming sooner, rather than later. Half the town must have been napping in the sun this evening, recovering from a terrific fair.
It is a good thing I got to work in the hospice booth, since I don't have a swirly skirt, a hoola- hoop, or sparkles in my hair. "You could," JJ said, showing me hers. She suggested silver strands of tinsel for my graying hair. Still, even on my bad knee I managed to dance to a bouncy blue grass band last night. Although, nearby in the shuffling, clapping crowd my friend Tom announced that bands without drums should be banned after 9:00pm. They are too hard to dance to. It didn't look to me like anybody noticed. I don't think you could have fit anyone else on the dance floor.
Well, it was a busy morning babysitting Caroline, cleaning up after the fish canning, and baking for the hospice fair booth. I had an appointment at the clinic too, with Dr. Marnie Hartman. (She put down a mat for the baby to play on.) Unfortunately, I'm a hobbling mess. An old cartilage tear from my accident has gotten worse and my knee looks like a lumpy, partially deflated soccer ball. (So much for all those chores. I guess I over did it. Hauling the old wood scrap pile down to the beach at low tide and burning it all was probably the knee breaker.
So, by now you probably know that I will start a new column in Woman's Day magazine in November, pretty much just like the old one that ran for ten years or so in the Anchorage Daily News (and similar in style to the Morning Edition and Christian Science Monitor essays, and my newer column in the Alaska Dispatch which I won't be doing now, at least until I get my feet on the ground with Woman's Day.
In one of our classes at UAA, Prof. Sherry Simpson explained what she learned about writing (and life) from Jackie Chan. She showed clips of his movies and read excerpts of interviews with him. One lesson was, "write your own narrative." In other words, pick the story of your life the way you want it to be, and do that. Which sounds a lot like one of our town's old founding fathers, Danish seaman and author Hjlamar Rutzebeck, who observed, "we are what we want to be, mostly." Well, this week, I mostly want to do chores.
When I told the Pandemonium bookstore & cafe in Wasilla I could only sign books there this afternoon if they gave me a ride to and from UAA here in Anchorage, ( a 45 minute highway drive to the 'burbs where the big sprawl of Wasilla is) I had no idea I'd be speeding there along the Glenn Highway in a deep blue Porsche Carrera convertible with the top down. My driver, Cecil (red hair, Georgia accent, 25 or so) works at the store. The car belongs to his boss, who is out of town.
Ed Allen, one of the teachers here at UAA, ( a novelist and poet and English prof. from South Dakota) gave a talk on words the other day, and the way we use them. He spoke of what he called "fundamental rhymes." Words, that for no known reason, go together, or as he said "fall into orbit" with each other. He said they were proof that language has something human at its core, and that, "In the beginning really was the word." This is a fun game to play. Here are a few examples: