Bet Your Bottom Dollar

Posted on May 27, 2012 by womansplace
When I was a young thirty-something, my then-husband and I had a summer share with friends on New York’s Fire Island; and as most do, ours began on Memorial Day. Every Friday of that long weekend during those five or six thirty-something years, it rained on the ferry ride to Fair Harbor; it rained while we sat with our morning coffees, at the kitchen table instead of out on the deck; it rained as we sat around the same table playing cards instead of Frisbee. It rained while one of us (usually a husband) flipped food on the grill with one hand holding an umbrella. It got to the point, during those five or six thirty-something years that come Memorial Day, we came to expect the rain.

During the two decades that have passed, we have weathered many lousy days. And yes, Annie, the sun did come out “tomorrow.” Children were doted on, worried about. Now grandchildren are being born. Marriages failed; industries failed; jobs were lost. We reinvented ourselves. We moved for new careers; we moved for new love.

Two years ago, after moving – for love – to Bucks County, we put an addition onto the house, and the ceiling started leaking. Twice, the roofers tore and hammered away; twice we put up drywall and painted. We’d thought it was a done deal until Irene and Lee let us know it wasn’t. We opened up the ceiling again, then waited for a heavy snow to sit on the house to test the integrity of the repair. The only snow had come the week before. We waited for a wind-driven spring deluge. Didn’t happen. So sometimes when you expect bad weather, it doesn’t come.

The only way you can truly tell the weather, my grandmother used to say, is to stick your head out the window. And if a sudden storm rips a hole somewhere in your life, you can fix it … when it feels like the right time … even for a third time.

Happy Unofficial Start to Summer, no matter what the sky does.


Teensy Little Toesies

If someone had asked me to create a list of adjectives to describe myself, “outdoorsy” would fall just below “gourmet.” I was a New York City girl who ordered toast to go. When I say I live in the country to my neighbors here, they laugh. They laugh because we are neighbors, which means this can’t really be the country.

Once, the only walking I liked to do was when there was something interesting to see, like smooth mannequins wearing dresses I could not afford to buy, and dapper men with slicked-back hair, rushing to a meeting on global something. But with a recent ear infection keeping me out of the pool (swimming being my activity of choice), I was desperate for exercise.

“The weather’s been spring since December. Take a walk along the canal,” one of my friends suggested. I work from home, which makes the commute rather quick, unless I see a dust bunny and decide to vacuum first. The point is I have flexibility in my schedule. And the first day I committed to, I checked every hour, hoping to see the gray cloud-and-raindrop icon. No such luck.

Because I have not stepped into the modern era and my CD Walkman was on the permanent disabled list, I couldn’t listen to music or a book. I don’t remember what I thought about that day. However, I clearly remember swinging my arms for optimum aerobic benefit. I did the three miles to and from the Ranger Station – or whatever those canal authority people are called – in about an hour. And it was at there, at that mid-walk rest stop, as I took a few moments to look at the pictorial history display of the canal, that I gasped in horror at my homophonic error.

I thought this route was called the “toepath” because your teensy little toesies make their way back and forth. Embarrassed even in my solitude, I read about the longtime job of mules towing barges up and down the 60-mile span of the canal between Bristol and Easton. I also learned from the captions that a mule is the baby of a donkey daddy and horse mommy. I think the horse got the raw end of that deal. Anyway, on this cloudless spring day, the path was filled with bicyclists and joggers and other nature enthusiasts – a group I was about to join.

Because it was on my way back when a flock – no, that’s wrong – a gaggle of geese swooped in for a landing only feet in front of me that I became enthused. I felt like the momma bringing up the rear as they craned their tar-black necks, squawking and waddling along the wire fence that separated the path from quite a nice piece of personal property to the right. While the rest of the geese squirmed under the lowest wire and bounded toward an in-ground pool the size of Lake Erie, there was one enormous honkin’ goose that wouldn’t – couldn’t – duck, and continued strutting nervously ahead of me, twisting every few seconds to reassess my proximity.

I couldn’t take it another moment. “What’s wrong with you?” I said in what I thought was a nonthreatening tone. “You’re a bird. Fly.” With a whoosh, he spread his brown wings, and airily hopped over the fence.

I’d made my first communion with nature.