“What are Your Plans for the Rest of the Summer?”

Yesterday a friend stopped by for a short visit which was great. We sat on my deck and drank iced tea and ate cake. I spent the morning cleaning the deck (argh…) and getting the umbrella set up as well as reconstructing Bear’s morning deconstruction project. My friend lives 3 hours away.

Of course we talked about the virus, about peoples’ response to it, how she deals with it (she’s working in a people-contact field). She’s had it early on, and I wanted to know how that went. Then she asked me about my plans for the rest of the summer.

I must have given her a very blank look because inside, my brain was a blank. What am I going to do with the rest of the summer?

I expect I’ll continue to celebrate my amazing beans, work on paintings (maybe more than one, no idea), dodge mosquitoes and deer flies, clean house, repair shit, paint garden signs which I will sell in my Etsy shop at very low prices and for which I’ll take orders. Then, September will come which is usually the Potato Festival — harvest celebration and end of tourist season. I doubt that will happen this year, but tourist season will end (if schools start).

Then the leaves will turn, the trails will be amazing, the mosquitoes will relax their relentless assault, the temps will be cooler, the days shorter and the first of the two really good seasons will be upon us.

I don’t like wishing my days away, but this year think we all are. I don’t think any of us is 100% OK. When I look at all the chaos in the country, I’m sure of it. We’re all a little out of our minds — some days more than others. When the virus hit, I didn’t have to think too long to understand my job was surviving until there’s a cure or vaccine. That is such a primal imperative it’s almost unfathomable. It doesn’t require any thought which is, right there, incomprehensible. We’re so attached to our sacred human brains that from time to time it just seems weird not to need it for a decision. I see people around me USING their brains for this and mostly, it seems, they use their brains as a way to rationalize refuting the primal imperative.

I saw the same thing when I was evacuated from a wild fire in California in 2003. I got it. Get out or die. That’s not a decision. That’s put dog food, human food, water, sleeping bag, tent and dogs in the truck and DRIVE. Lots of people didn’t get it — well, they got it for good and all, actually, but until their lives intersected with fire, they’d been able to use their brains to deny its reality somehow.

I looked at my friend and said, “I’m here for the duration. I don’t have any disposable income, and anyway, I like it here.” For that, I am very, very lucky.

But…I think it’s important to remember (I have to remind myself) that people aren’t OK. I watched a “viral” video on Twitter last month of a young woman in Arizona filming herself at Target basically having a nervous breakdown. She was attacking displays of masks and cursing them out. Of course, she was soundly condemned by all and sundry but I thought, “She is out of her mind. I don’t know if she has a legit mental illness or if she’s crazy from fear and anger, but there but for the grace of God go all of us.”

It took me a long time to move past the wall of this and begin doing creative work. It started with the Etsy shop and the touching up a painting that looked “wrong” in a photograph. As I fixed the painting I felt, for the first time since this started, the sweet combination of peace and excitement that is, for me, creative work. Realizing THAT, I started a difficult painting and was soon lost in it. And now, another. I think everyone has some block inside right now, days of confusion, days of resignation, normal days, scared days, frustrated and angry days, lonely days.

Better days will come one way or another, and in the meantime? I guess we just do the best we can.

Garden sign almost finished…

22 thoughts on ““What are Your Plans for the Rest of the Summer?”

  1. Martha–your deck looks great. Tea and cake on the deck–it sounds lovely. Is the sunflower painting your garden painting? Very pretty. The Bear report…my heart melted. Yup, I will sit here and wait for better days….like everyone else.

    • My step-daughter-in-law made The Bear Report sign for me for Christmas. ❤ The sunflower painting is the one I painted for my friend and gave her yesterday. It was kind of an experiment and I ended up liking it.

  2. I am so glad it worked out for you to have your friend visit. I too have thought differently about those “rest of the summer” questions. I just want to get it over with and get on with getting that vaccine done. Or a cure. Before this year I’ve usually wanted to stretch out the sunny warm days (well, except for the mosquito part). I can relate to your description of that block inside. That wall. And it is everyone. Sigh. I am very impressed with how your backyard turned out – an umbrella and everything! :). A perfect setting for 2 friends, tea and cake.

    • The best part (two parts) of my backyard this year is 1) the deck and 2) seeing how I want it to be which will be next year’s project. Plus conditioning the dogs to (mostly) respect fenced areas. They’ve done so well!!! The bark was an experiment that worked, too. I’m glad I’ve had that yard this summer. ❤

      • I can see why – an oasis amidst the outside world chaos maybe? As well as a plan for the future. And the dogs are not digging it up (mostly) – Yay! It really looks so cozy and sweet ❤️

        • Thank you. Next year I’ll have more beans and a wildflower meadow (fenced) behind the deck. I definitely think that “future” thing is a major part of dealing with this weirdness. AND when I’m out there with all of the plants I just feel grateful and that might be what’s kept humans gardening since godnose where. I’m also very grateful this community. ❤

          • A wildflower meadow! I love it. My father-in-law’s business was digging/collecting and selling wildflower bulbs, etc. They can be quite beautiful. He had quite a collection of his own in his yard. I like that peek into your future. 🙂 Great plan. Being amongst the plants and gardens is a good place to be to feel better ❤️

  3. “…the sweet combination of peace and excitement that is, for me, creative work.”

    Yes, exactly! It shows in your gorgeous paintings.

    Being creative in some way every day has been keeping me sane, tamping down the stress the comes with each day’s next piece of bad/sad/mad news.

    I’ve become resigned to the fact that the creative project I thought I should be focusing on during all this “down time” (a book) isn’t bringing me the most peace and joy on a daily basis. Photography is blogging is. So I do those things and call it good. Slowly but surely, though, the photos and blog posts are clarifying for me what I want to write about in my book.

    Lesson learned: with creative work the path is rarely linear.

  4. The sunflower garden sign is so cheerful! I’m certain your friend will enjoy it year round. I have been using my brain but not in a denial of reality way but more for mitigation, response and recovery. That is trying to determine a path away from despair and toward joy.

  5. Your garden looks great, Martha. There has been research that shows that having a garden can significantly cool the surrounding environment. I didn’t water my grass last year due to the drought and I think it added to the furnace like conditions. I love mulch. It really improves the soil. I’m so pleased you got to have a nice afternoon with your friend. And good work on getting your head together enough for the painting. 🙂

  6. I will wander about the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi, gather mussels, play guitar, have lovely meals with other careful friends, and live my life like I mean it. That’s my coming summer. It’s the least I can do.

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