now time   18 comments

Stink bug nymph

These past few days, it feels like summer is racing past and will soon be gone. Seems like it wasn’t all that long ago that I arrived and spent the next two or three weeks tripping around buying ladders, a bar fridge, and a few other things to make it possible to live and work here at the old house. Now, I’m thinking in reverse. What needs to be done in order to close up the place and get back on the road for the autumn and winter?

Last week, I began working on what I regard as communication issues. The past couple of years, I’ve used a blackberry for email, and then relied mainly on wifi hotspots for using the laptop. I used modem sticks a little last year too – and have continued to use one here at the house this summer. However, my laptop suffered some damage last winter and only works when it is plugged in – it can’t run off battery power anymore. I was looking to replace it and decided to buy one of the new 3G + wifi enabled iPads, thinking that might work out to be a good solution and perhaps even replace the blackberry in time. I bought the iPad but have had quite a time trying to get the 3G enabled. Fortunately, I’m fairly patient or I would have thrown in the towel on the weekend. Anyhow, it’s still not set up, but I’ll just keep working away at that over the next few days during those times when I feel like I can handle a little frustration. However, today doesn’t happen to be one of those days.

I’m not much for keeping track of dates or even the time of day anymore. In most of my past lives, the time, dates, and deadlines were a big part of my world. Not now. With just the dogs and myself, structured time is almost meaningless. Instead, time has become an abstract thing considered only in terms of the weather and what can be done that day — morning walk, make breakfast, wash and hang up laundry on clothesline, repair and paint siding, afternoon walk, work on a trail in the woods, bring in dry laundry, make evening dinner, talk to my mom on the phone, answer email, do some mothing, and so on. All days are both the same but different. However, regardless of the sameness, I am very aware of the passage of time. I don’t need to look at the calendar buried under a stack of books in order to know that the angle of sunlight is changing, or that goldenrod and asters have replaced daisies and fireweed in the garden. Gone are the warblers, to be replaced by the coarse shrieks and screams of several families of Blue Jays and Crows hatched in the springtime in the woods surrounding my house.

Front and east side of house with final coat of paint applied – more work yet to be done above.

I may not know the date, but am acutely aware of where I was two years ago, and then last year, at this point in the summer. For the rest of you, early September may hold some significance as the time of year when your children return to school, or you to your teaching job, or when you begin to think about closing up the cottage, or freezing the last of the green beans in the garden. For me, this is the time of year when my thoughts turn to my last days caring for Don and saying goodbye as he departed from what had become, for both of us, a world of pain. It’s the time of year when I sold our farm and gave away or put our belongings into storage, then packed up the van and traveled north, then west, then south. To many of you, two years may seem like a long time. To me, it seems more like a long day, or perhaps a fleeting week, since I held Don in my arms as he departed on his own journey. The clock has ticked onwards, but my thoughts are frozen in a place that exists outside of any clock or calendar. For me, there is only before time, and after time, and now time. It is now time where you might find me on most days, standing upon a ladder as I re-nail and paint siding, or plaster walls here at the old house. And now time is that place where I stop the van by a lake, set up the camp stove to make our dinner and rest for a day or two. Although I may seem to be here with you now, I am in another place that you cannot see or know.

In any case, I continue to work away here at the house. Progress has been made over the summer. Below is a paired photo of the house as it looked on April 23rd, and another as it looked in mid-August (click on all images for larger views). Since the latest photos, most of the exterior has been given its final coat of white paint — yes, I decided to go with white after all! Being a modified Greek Revival, it is in the style that was usually painted white to give it the feel of a Greek temple. After working on the place for awhile – well, it seemed to be asking to be painted white. Over the next week or two, I’ll be shifting from finishing up the summer work, to closing up the house for winter. Already, I have begun to pack the gear and belongings that will be needed for many weeks of camping and travel, and for a winter spent in the south. For me, this is an odd time, filled with memories of past years – some good, some extremely sad – as before time and after time converge with now time — as we make ready to depart this place and travel wherever our road may lead.

Written by bev on August 26th, 2010