Does the weather have multiple personalities or is it just me? A sunny day that suddenly becomes dark and rainy can seem to mirror my own internal melee. I have to wonder if anything is really happening or is it all in my mind.
There are times that I have to remind myself that nothing is happening to me directly and that I should probably just calm down. But in these usual times, that can bring about a separate, jarring reality that maybe nothing is happening and the mechanics from one day don’t only “seem” eerily similar to the day before, they are actually the same day repeating itself! If I’m being truthful, this really isn’t very different to my life before Covid.
The weather in Port Townsend can change many times over the course of a day. I spend most of the day outside, so, all of these little changes can feel like a thickening plot, a story unfolding around me. Living on a peninsula on a peninsula, I frequently have the sensation that whole weather systems are rushing over me while on the way to more substantial ground.
From My Kitchen Window
It’s the sight that I see everyday as I do the dishes, get a glass of water or obsessively wash my hands. This perspective from my kitchen sink (the window is always above the sink!) is a key factor in any decision that I make about my backyard. I know it so well that it’s kind of silly how often I check in on it. It’s a picture that changes throughout the year, but those changes are usually slow and incremental. Other than the weather there is not a lot going on and I know it.
Now that fall is here the changes have sped up. New colors burst forth and then drop away. The plants go dormant and stormy weather is the story of the day but, after twenty-five years at this window, my view can feel predictable. I guess I get some comfort from that.
Who Turned Off the Lights?
It was a cold end to a stormy week. On most days I worked through the rain but, for safety reasons, the strong winds eventually drove me inside. Anyone who lives under trees can attest to the mess and damage a windstorm can bring. My property is pretty open and most of the mature trees I see from my house are shakkei, (Japanese for “borrowed scenery”) and belong to the neighbors. I’m very thankful as well as very aware that what surrounds my property is a big part of what makes my garden look good. Thanks, y’all!
The Fall of the Garden of Bridget
I woke up on Friday morning to an unusual sound; it was quiet outside. The sky was a pleasant mix of puffy clouds and a brilliant blue. I couldn’t wait to get out there. Maybe I’d even go for a walk before heading into the garden.
Then suddenly, the sky did that “multiple personality” thing. A darkness was sinking into the clouds as they crowded together, leaving only a small opening to show where the blue was slipping away to. At the last minute, before it became completely hidden, the sun shot through to light up my shakkei! It was so beautiful that I almost forgot to snap a few pictures.
By the time I turned to go back inside, the light was already gone. The sun had completely disappeared and the rain started to fall.
I put my thoughts of a walk on hold. I couldn’t make myself go out in the rain again. I was still feeling pretty soggy from this last week of working through the downpours.
This picture doesn’t really do justice to how dark it became outside. I had to turn on a light to finish making the coffee. Luckily, the rain didn’t last for very long. After a second cup of coffee, David and I decided it might be our only chance to fit in a walk. By the time we were walking out the door it was acting like a nice sunny day again and it seemed like the weather events of the morning had safely passed.
It’s not unusual to hear a chainsaw running in Port Townsend. There are a lot of wood burning stoves to heat homes and, because of the winter windstorms, there is also a lot of maintenance on trees in the right-of-way to try to minimize the damage they can do to power lines and property. So, when we came home from our walk, I didn’t think anything about the sounds of a chainsaw starting to rev up.
The first thing David and I did when we got home was to take off our shoes and wash our hands. This routine is somewhat new for us because of Covid. It’s not that we didn’t ever do those things upon entering the house but, now it’s a must. I was scrubbing away absentmindedly, looking out of my window, when it struck me. Something’s not right.
What’s that building doing in my backyard?
A building that is a block away was suddenly visible from my kitchen window. Below it, just barely visible above my fence, were leaves and branches. When they started to shake, I realized that that was where the buzz of the chainsaw was coming from. A large branch had come down from my shakkei maple and it was being cut up.
Could that dark interlude that I recorded earlier with my camera have been the harbinger of this loss? I wondered what kind of sound the branch had made when it split off from the trunk. I felt like I had missed out on a major plot twist that was years in the making. I’m guessing that the windstorms had weakened the branch and then the rain added just enough weight to the leaves to cause its breakage. If there is an arborists out there that would like to chime in, now would be a good time to do that… anyone? Anyone?
Shakkei-up my view
Pardon my Japanese but, this really changes the feel of my back garden. I’ve spent a lot of time carefully placing plants (and chairs) so that I can feel secluded when I’m back there. I know it’s just a minor change in some ways and that soon I’ll be use to it, but it feels like these buildings are suddenly hovering over my backyard. I guess this is the downside to relying on shakkei for one’s own privacy.
It’s still a beautiful tree. It’s a little lopsided now (arborist; please insert comment here) but, it’s old with many stories to tell and now with one more to share.