A picture of summer ending -- white rosa rugosa become golden rose hips, the pink ones become orange hips and the red ones become bright red hips. Nature makes a certain amount of sense.
However, nature has seemed out a whack this summer and autumn. My much loved habit of going to a quiet beach at about 8:00 in the morning and walking for a hour each day, sometimes with a pause for some Ti Chi Easy, was very much interrupted. Each week seemed to have two or three days of gray, unwelcoming mornings. I actually didn't get much tan. And I didn't find the usual calm pleasure in my habit. Furthermore the horseshoe crabs which I love -- really it was just their molted shells which drifted up to the beach from early August through the month, were very few. Something had happened to those ancient crustaceans -- at least along this shore. That was sad.
The unsettled weather has continued into the fall. We had four or five truly beautiful Indian summer days last week. But for the past couple of day we've had fog, gray skies, rain, and last night a serious wind storm that, the radio say, left several thousand Cape Codder without electricity. This morning I drove a short distance and saw two young trees down across the road. My elextricity was not affected and I slept through most of the storm -- actually because I had done some unusual self-medication. My boast of "I never get those things that go around" has proved untrue with a Something -- not the Flu, not a Cold -- maybe we could all it the Creeping Crud as I might have in high school. Three friends I see often have been felled by it. I haven't exactly compared notes, but mainly it is a cough (I speak for myself only) -- a very bad, raspy, gasping, chest wrenching cough to free the tonsils from feeling impacted with that "crud".
I fought back as valiantly as I (unacccustomed as I am) could with OTC decongestant, cough drops, various varieties of tea (I even pulled out some quite old slippery elm tea), and Tylenol PM which is my go-to sleep aid on the rare occasions when I think I need one. So I missed a lot of the storm and I have barely any voice. But I did not wake up coughting during the night and have had only a couple of coughing spells today.
This unusual turmoil in the ecology/atmosphere and in my own little body, seems to me a echo of the unprecedented turmoil in our political world. I feel something almost beyond despair at the actions of Trump and the apparently "head under the pillow" attitude of most of Congress, the uprising of hate groups and the home-grown craziness of men who create tragedy and terror with guns. This is not a "something is rotten in Denmark" moment -- it's beyond anything Shakespeare with all his brilliance, could have conceived. The world is not right. When one world "leader" becomes a taunting 8-year old callong another "rocket boy!" taunting him to use his nuclear capable rockets -- we are not merely on a dark heath or a storm at sea. I've temporarily lost my voice -- it is not a voice that carries far anyway -- is this the "whimper" that is all one can do?
Because the ingenuity of an artist and the magic of mirrors, here I am talking to a woman (who is painted on the mirror). I am standing to the side (you can see a corner of my purse on the right) and, also in the mirror is daughter Rachel taking this picture. Rachel wanted to go visit #1 son over Columbus holiday. All research told us the best say to go was to drive. Yes, we knew it was a long drive, 11 hours each way and we would have only one whole day and two evenings. It was worth it although we weren't entirely sure about that driving home. (More on that in little while.) Monday was sunny and hot and humid in Washington (Joel lives in Arlington but it's a short distance. We spent Monday mostly in and out of museums --this photo was in the modern art one. Happily they were air conditioned. We saw art from the the 15th century to modern -- in some cases 'yesterday" because our first stop was in at a converted torpedo factory which now houses at least 50 artists' studio. We all loved the variety and creativity and commentary. In D.C. we went to the big museums and revisited favorites like El Greco, Hopper, Whistler -- you name it, they've got it!
We don't get to visit with Joel very often. Seeing him and his mostly minimailist apartment in a section with many modern apartment buildings, was a pleasure. He even took us to a New York style bagel place for breakfast, plus to a Uigher restaurant (very good and mostly different) and then a Pakistani restaurant the next night.
It was a short, quick visit. The trip down was about an hour longer than it should have been due to a detour. And the drive home was an hour longer due to the worst rainy conditions I can remember ever spending 10 hours in -- on Rte. 95. We kept thinking the next state (8 in all) it would clear up but it didn't. Thank heavens Rachel had loaded her IPat with NPR programs and a nice piano piece to use when mediating I had brought poetry books you Billy Colling and Mary Oliver and read them aloud. The 18-wheelers were about 10 times the size of my little Honda Civic and threw up white-out conditions of water on our windshield. Rachel, calmly, heroically did al the driving. But I'm glad I was along at least for little company and distraction.
I don't really go off-Cape that often so this was an adventure -- I'm sorry the weather was so awful. When we got to the Bourne bridge which takes us from the mainland Massachusetts and leads to Rte. 6 on Cape Cod with only 30 miles to Hyannis we saw the gray sky had a tinge of blue and the rain became a drizzle and then stopped as we got home. Thus -- my autumn adventure and Rachel's heroic driving in conditions that can only be worse when the percipitation is snow.
A beautiful day -- after most of a week of gray, rainy weather today's sky was blue, the sun was warm but not hot, and the afternoon was spent at Heritage Plantation, a large botanical garden in Sandwich, here on Cape Cod. Rhododendrun season is in full swing, the plantation is famous for their rodies and azelas (also blooming magnificently). The displays were gorgeous!
The garden is large, it has features to keep everyone happy. After we visited the flume, near the entrance which the kids love (water falling from a pipe far up into a pool, they raced around the labryinth at least least three times and have now learned that there is a difference between a laybrinth and a maze (although they have not yet experienced a maze). Of course we made our way, past fields and some new scultpures to the "Hollow" which is a children's play area complete with a two story tree house and many other toys and amusement. They would have been happy to spend the entire aternoon there.
I could have spent more time in the museum which has a fine exhibit of landscape paintings inclding a beautiful Hopper painting and somewhere between 35 and 50 other paintings, some as old as Marsden Hartley but most contemporary painters, both realistic and abstract. In a separate building is a beautiful carousel, free! with relatively long rides. The kids went twice, I went once and declared it "the carousel ride I've had in 50 years." All except little Silas (who can't talk but is a wonderfully placid and easy going baby -- readying to take his first steps) wanted to see the paintings. They are hardly art critics but they told us which ones they liked best and were willing to look at everything.
The kids have been there before and so knew about the children's area and the wandering paths. There were no fusses or arguments, no whining, just enjoyment. What a very, very good afternoon it was!
This is my favorite photo of spring, taken a few years ago on a walk in one of the pulic areas in Barnstable Village. Many Cape Codders say we don't really have spring and that usually seems to be true. But we get teasers, which we've had most of this week. After two weeks of mostly rain, gray, windy, chilly, weather suddenly it was summer.
Suddenly the sun was brilliant, the waters were sparkling, the temperatures climbed quickly through the 60s to the 70s and even into the 80s (in Boston they hit the 90s). Wonderfu! Out came the short sleeved tee-shirts and even the shorts -- especially here on the Cape it seems, men, truly more than women, are eager to get into shorts. (For one thing, men don't worry about shaving their legs and they totally ignore their ankles).
One night the temperatures stayed up and I slept, as I often do in the summer, with my feet out from under the covers. It was actually a humid and muggy. And only a few days earlier I had to go to bed with socks on to get my toes warm!
This morning, again grayish, again coolish and possibility of showers in the forecast. Yes, it was all a tease. The flowers are out, the grass is brilliant green and growing, and I'm still going to spend the morning sorting turtlenecked tops and filling the drawer with short sleeved tee-tops. I wasn't really fooled by that teaser but I know, truly KNOW, that when summer actually comes, it will be hot. Probably once again the hottest summer on record ... yes, climate change is a bit of a flirt around here but when summer settles in we'll know it. We'll bitch and moan and many will worry about the future of our world.
The documentary, I, Claude Monet, was shown in February and sold out, so the wonderful Cape Cinema did encore showings, one yesterday and another tonight. I skipped the first showing thinking I'm so familiar with his Impressionist paintings, I had little to learn. WRONG! of course.
Yes, I have seen, in museums and in books, a large selection of the many, many paintings he did. I actually knew very little about his life. Especially I was touched that he not only wrote constant begging letters for money to a variety of people during his first 20 or so years. He was impoverished to the point that his wife died from lack of medical care and perhaps a baby as well -- the movie was unclear as it was almost all a voice reading from his letters.
As a documentary it was repetitious in the sense of being one letter after another with pictures of the places he was living and the paintings he did of those places. There were photographs of him and his family -- he eventually had a second wife and a total of 8 children and was financially well off. There was no discussions, really about his style which I found alright because I've read a lot about the Impressionists' use of light and I think no one did it more effectively than Monet. The sound track was a sometimes tiresome piano score, occasionally with a cello -- the credits told me it was composed specifically for this film. I would have liked more variety. But it was beautiful to see. One had been to Giverney when it was in full flower -- I envy her that experience, the shots the were magnificent.
I saw two documentary films yesterday, each well over an hour long, each on important subjects. One was magnificent, although hard to watch at times; the other one was so boring I could hardly sit still.
Sharkwater, a documentary by Rob Stewart, told our roomful of documentary aficionados far more than we knew about sharks and entirely won us over to the enormous, pressing need to protect these very endangered animals (90% of their population has be destroyed in the last 10 years). The movie was the story of Rob Stewart's love of sharks and then his joining the fearless SEA SHEPHERD, with it's magnificent captain, Sam, whose full name I do not know, which patrols the open seas trying to protect endangered sea animals -- sharks in this case (apparently whales in other cases). Sharks are not vicious, they are shy about people, they are highly intelligent, they are the top predators in the ocean and without them the ecology of the ocean (which is not well understood) would be out of balance and could result in a lessening of the amount of oxygen generated by the ocean -- an amount absolutely necessary to life on the solid parts of Earth. Those are only a few of the facts I learned from the film.
Most disturbing is the huge predation of sharks simply for their fins for the market for shark fin soup in China. Once again (as with elephants an rhinocerses) that vast population of insecure people is wrecking havoc for the financial gain of a mafia-like business. There were extremely painful scenes in the movie. And it included an action novel like run in with the "bad guys" an the way they had paid off government officials who actually charge the Sea Shepherd and its crew, who (spoiler alert!) who found a time to make a run for freedom. As a documentary it was beautiful, highly informative, had highly admirable real life people. When the film was over the woman showing it was nearly in tears as she told us that Rob Steward has died.
The second film was Food Choices about, of course, the many compelling reasons to eat a plant-based diet. It presented some new information with one talking head after another, some of whom had boring voices, some not even very clearly enunciated, although I was gently reminded by my companion that only the speaker on the right side of the room was playing and that music obscured some of the voices. Yes, my hearing is not entirely perfect, but indeed I think the several experts who sat, unmoving in their various chairs, spoke unclearly. It was just plain boring. A long Q&A afterwards with the area's foremost MD-nutritionist was a little helpful and somewwhat repetitious
By the time I put my head down on a pillow I was overwhelmed with information and visuals and happy to turn off the brain entirely for a good night's sleep.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!