Nine to five…my new hours of sleep for the summer. It reached ninety degrees here on the mountain yesterday. It was one-hundred-six in Temecula when I went down the hill to the store. I guess spring is over…seems like it lasted about two days. Spring and fall seem like short seasons here in the mountains. Winter is mild compared to the Midwest but nights can still hit freezing and days can hang out in the fifties. Those cold nights call for a fire that often continues to burn all day. Summer is wonderful. Ninety is about the top of the scale and nights are always cool and lovely. No hot sweltering humid sweaty nights…no need for air conditioning…I like that.
May, June and July will be spent outside working on the projects still left to complete at Mountain Valley Retreat. The one I’m looking at is a stack of 1000 red brick pavers sitting quietly on their pallets waiting to be laid out on the ground into a patio and walkways. I picked up stakes and leveling string yesterday so I’m ready to hit it. 6:30 until about 10:30 will be the time to work in the sun…then a switch to inside projects will take me through the heat of the day and it will start cooling off around four. It had dropped to eighty by four yesterday. There we have it…the southern California mountain weather report!
Even though I hear the occasional commuter passing by up on the road, this time of morning has a special quiet to it. I can hear a distant neighbor’s rooster crowing, and it was the dawn-dancing song birds that awakened me. The air is especially still. Maybe it’s the lack of activity on the airwaves that creates the feeling of such stillness. TV, computer, cell phone, and ipad screens are dark as their people lie sleeping, only their dream-screens active. My brain is slowly activating as I write my morning pages…not much going on in there yet!
What am I writing about? The feel of the seasons!
Growing up in the Black Hills the seasons were much defined for me. When the giant cottonwoods started shedding, it was time to buy school supplies and get new shoes. Sweaters came out of the box and the air smelled of burning leaves and crackled with the excitement of a new classroom and teacher and the satisfaction of sharp crayons. It was time to start planning my Halloween costume. Fall brings the promise of new beginnings.
Fall moved into winter by Thanksgiving. Snow would cover the ground until spring. Winter was a true wonderland of sleds and skates, snowballs and forts, red cheeks and numb fingers. Inside, my friend, Judy, and I went through music choosing the songs for our annual Christmas recital. My mother was our accompanist. Winter was not a hibernation time for me, but there were days I played “hooky” from school to stay at home in my pj’s drinking hot chocolate and listening to show tunes on the phonograph. At 3:00 I would peek out the curtains and watch the “good” kids walking home from school with a feeling of smug gratification at my cleverness. Winter coaxes me into a feeling of snug security.
By April the snow was looking a bit ragged and dirty and a spring blizzard usually took care of that. But soon to follow were brilliant blue skies and the sun warm enough to melt a foot of snow in one day with the aid of a Chinook wind from the west. The best skiing ever followed a spring blizzard…flying down the slopes in shorts and bikini tops just because we could! Purple crocus pushed through the last vestiges of winter white to signal spring was on the way. The walk to school included a stop to pick yellow forsythia blooms to bring to the teacher. The smell of spring was intoxicating…lush, fertile, fecund…confusing my young mind with the arousing sensations of budding hormones. Spring still ignites my passion. It is the season of excitement.
Summer! The best season of all. Holiday from school was the key! Freedom to spend our days playing and making our own money at odd jobs like babysitting…later car-hopping at the A&W drive-in. The community swimming pool was my favorite hang-out. Judy and I perfected our jack-knife dive in plaid two-piece swimsuits designed to impress the boys. Summer was nights playing games of tag and hide-and-seek under the stars and streetlights. Summer invokes the feeling of absolute freedom.