It’s Labor Day as I write this. One of those odd days in the year that no mail is delivered but our weekday routines go on. The NPR news is more sensible than it is on the weekends. There’s less talk of pop culture and football, a little less “human interest” and we don’t have Scott Simon’s sententious homilies.
Labor Day is a transition. Summer is ending. Tomorrow there will be yellow school buses everywhere. On the island it’s the beginning of our period of dry dock, when the car ferry is being repaired, overhauled and painted in Seattle. For three weeks we will have only a passenger ferry. That means most people need a car parked near the ferry dock on the mainland.
This year the stress of dry dock has been increased by official announcements that parking on the mainland will be drastically cut back because the Lummi Tribe has refused to allow cars to be parked on their roads. These announcements have been retracted by other announcements, but it isn’t at all clear what the parking situation will be.
The season changes gradually, and yet there is a sudden difference in bird visits to the feeders. The bright colored birds of the summer are gone. Some of them (the finches) have flown away to Mexico. Resident birds can find plenty of food elsewhere. Blackberries, thimble berries, snowberries and more are abundant.
I don’t need to replenish the seed and suet every day. As I look out my window now I see chickadees, nuthatches and juncos at the feeders: little brown birds that don’t eat so much of what Jerry calls “bird welfare.”
Tomatoes are ripening all at once. I have about 15 ripe tomatoes on my kitchen counter now. The lettuce is bolting. Three pole bean plants are producing more than Jerry and I can eat.
We are getting ready to go to Alaska. Jerry packed the truck with tools and materials for our fall project in the Alaska house — converting a back entry room into a small bedroom so we don’t have to navigate stairs to get to the bathroom at night.
One of my sons is getting divorced — a sadness and a worry. He loved his wife and 2 children and they were his life. My other son has stresses in his life and his job that make him unhappy and sensitive; that worries me. Thank goodness my daughters seem to be in reasonably good order.
Jerry and I are feeling our age — 79. I find the approach of my 80th birthday (6 months hence) scary. Although I am still fit for my age, I have less stamina, less energy, more aches and pains than when I approached 70. Jerry feels the same. We are thankful to be making this journey together, but we know we are probably entering our last decade. Death is a transition I am not eager to make. William Saroyan said, 5 days before he died: “Everybody has to die, but I always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?” My position on death has always been; I know I am going to die, but not today. That’s still my position, but someday (perhaps soon) that will no longer be a true statement.
Every day I wonder whether I am slipping mentally. I have trouble concentrating. I am forgetting people’s names, words, things I did last week. Is it the dreaded A word? Or is it stress from my kid’s troubles.
I cannot see as well as I did. I guess my cataracts are “ready” to be dealt with.
After dinner Jerry and I walk a mile and a half circuit from one side of the island to the other and back to our house, which sits in the middle of the narrowest part of the island. The world looks serene and lovely at this time of the year. On the east side the rising moon hangs over the water, the sun lights the showy top of Mt. Baker turning it pink;
when we get to the west side the sun is setting over Vancouver island,
the reef netter’s boats and the fish buyers boats silhouette against the silver water of Legoe Bay; then the road passes through dense woods where trees almost shut out the sky. Sometimes we see deer or rabbits or a heron or an eagle on our walk; sometimes small planes fly overhead and Jerry remembers the days when he was still flying. When the weather is especially pleasant and the wind is quiet he says: “This would be a nice evening to fly.”
As I write this Jerry, sitting at his computer, reads me headlines :
“Unruly Alaska Airline passenger bites crew member.”
“Forty percent of Europeans suffer from mental illness.”
We giggle. In a few minutes we’ll drink a glass of wine — on the back deck because it‘s still warm and sunny.
What on earth am I complaining about?