Back to the weather
I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve gone between blog posts. It’s been eight weeks and one day since my last entry, on a blue moon. I was kidding about the once in a blue moon posting, though right now it seems I’m following my own pronouncement.
So I’ll attempt a quick catch up of what’s gone on in the past two months (as if that’s possible for me (the quick part, that is). We’re in the first few weeks of our wet season. It held off forever, and with no complaints from me. A lot of people have remarked that the two months of no rain (not really, but almost) was the longest dry spell they could remember around here. It was unusual, but didn’t feel that unusual to me. Just late. Since summer weather didn’t start until mid-July, it just felt like we deserved a little dry weather, after a miserable wet, ark-worthy June. The garden struggled in that wet gray month, where the solstice came and went without a drop of sunshine, and as one local farmer noted, the plants never seemed to recover. Our days started getting shorter on June 21st and we still hadn’t had any sunshine, and the plants felt it. Seeds were slow to sprout, when they did there was no encouragement to grow, without old Sol to warm the soil and combine with the moisture to turbocharge growth. So this year’s veggie garden was a bit of a crapshoot.
We never had any really hot days, either. I think we got over 90 degrees once or twice, but nothing to write home about. The longer I live here (and I’ve spent the majority of my life here) the more I find I’m craving sun and blue sky. Perhaps it’s just a sign of age. There’s a reason all those sunbelt states are filled with seniors, I guess. Perhaps we all get there eventually? Really, though, I don’t mind the cooler temps, nor the snow (not that we’re known for harsh, snowy winters). In fact, the times where it’s freezing and clear, I’m just fine. Keeping the chickens and sheep with non-frozen water can be a bit of a hassle, but it doesn’t seem nearly as wretched as when it’s 40 degrees and raining for days without end, the slop and muck becoming its own entity, and every one of us miserable and/or stir crazy with the interminable cold, soggy gloom of a northwest winter. (Haha, I just mistyped winter without the t and it looked like whiner.)
It’s funny, because the first day of real rain, a few weeks ago – where it really came down and seemed more typical for the time of year, I felt soothed and relaxed in a way I hadn’t realized I’d been missing. I guess that’s the conundrum of it all. Or perhaps it’s just the off-kilter rhythm of weather. Sure, the two months of rain-free sunshine came later than usual, and maybe lasted a couple weeks longer than usual, but we normally get a good six to eight weeks of mostly-dry spell every summer, and in fact are one of the driest regions in the continental US during the summer months. But we pay for these two delicious months of weather that is as near to perfect as one can imagine with six months (no exaggeration) of rain and overcast skies, and short winter days that seem even shorter when the daylight hours are gray and dingy with a constant, complete cloud cover, and no hint that the sun even exists.
So while I was happy to see the rain free period last as long as it wanted, there’s also a certain amount of stress around it. For me it’s mostly due to the feeling that if I’m not making the most of every sunny day, I’m wasting it. It will be rainy and gray in a few short months and I mustn’t squander this short lived summer sun. I don’t want to be inside the house, and thus get precious little housework or chores done (an excuse for the lack of blog posts?). The clutter builds in the summertime because I feel guilty if I’m not outside puttering, or even sitting in the sun, soaking it up in some sort of psychological version of “make hay while the sun shines.” I suppose people in places like Southern California, or heck, even eastern Washington, would get a giggle over the whole idea of feeling stressed by day after day of sunshine. It is funny, especially to those of us who love the sun. There are plenty of wet, cold dark days to come, and I’m already missing the sunshine (though we did get one beautiful day last weekend, and of course I couldn’t stay inside the house – it again felt wasteful to be inside on such a nice day). Such a weird conundrum.
So weird, in fact, that I’ve contemplated moving away from this area to get away from the weather stress, if not the weather itself. Not only the endless rain, but the stress that comes with summer days, where it’s light out until 10 p.m. and the guilt around the idea of coming inside before the sun sets. Yet I’m not into the endless sunny days of places like So. Cal, either. The overcast and wet is tedious, but so is the opposite. Day after day of cloudless blue skies, with not even a wisp of cumulus to break up the monotony. No thanks. Eastern Washington or Montana sound great – sort of the best of both worlds – until the summer forest fire season. I’m not so keen on the idea of being in the path of a wildfire, with my home and animals threatened. I keep returning to Oregon in my list of places to go; down in the southwest corner, or even up in the Eugene area. When I was looking back in 2008 and 2009 I looked seriously at the Umpqua region. I remember seeing lots of sheep when I took a drive down there one weekend.
At any rate, summer is definitely over. The rains have returned, with a vengeance, and the trees are all turning color and dropping leaves like crazy. I’ve been walking the property for the past couple of months looking at trees I’d like to take down. Right now it’s a handful of maples and a cottonwood or six. And maybe three or four cedars. Just to open things up a bit, for a little more light and a more expansive view. It gets a little claustrophobic at times. And removing a few trees would help with the pasture grass – more light to grow grass and fewer leaves to try to rake up that end up smothering the grass.