Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Late bloomers

Time for the first hard frost of the year. The forecast for tonight is below freezing, the same for the next few days. I'm taking it in stride, and in fact I've come around (again) to the whole growing older thing. Not like I have a choice, but, you know. I think the change of seasons always hits particularly hard around here. One's mortality becomes mighty evident. They don't call it fall for nothing! So bare-bones and gaunt! Friends, after last week's malaise I pulled myself together, read some good books, listened to The Smiths and New Order, and am feeling much better.

It also helps that the garden is still sending forth blooms. This fall has been golden and warm, and so many plants are experiencing a renaissance of second growth. The sweet peas:

Feverfew is growing and blooming a second time too, and going to seed like mad:

As are the herbs, the thyme and oregano are both covered in tiny fragrant flowers:

And the chives. Second go-around for them, when there's almost nothing else left in the garden:

Even the forsythia on the sunny south corner of the house has a branch in full bloom:

Even more - the heart's ease (johnny-jump-ups) have their faces turned to the sun:

And by the kitchen steps, lavender and nasturtiums and mint and lemon balm are still going:

The nasturtiums in particular, they are truly volcanic! The color is stunning to me, they glow brighter than the cadmium colors on my palette:

With all this beauty in plain sight it's hard to regret the passage of time, or remain dour for long. In fact, it helps me remember that I was a late bloomer myself. I had a great time, and a terrible time, was cool and uncool, and have at least ten thousand very unusual memories. Wouldn't change a thing. Youth...? Coming of age in the eighties...? Long gone, but I Never Can Say Goodbye.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I love my life, but...

...sometimes I want to go back in time. Getting older is so weird. It was a rewind the clock kind of day. I spent a few hours in town running errands. By town, I mean the town I lived in for fifteen years, the town where I had my bookshop. By errands, I mean I actually had a long list and I ticked things off as I went along. And then I returned to the coastal village I now live in feeling unutterably depressed about the general state of affairs in this land. In town, what I saw: rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry, hideous retail space after hideous retail space after hideous retail space, all selling a whole bunch of ugly. For lunch I bought an organic sandwich at the health food store and sat and ate it in the parking lot next to the big empty Borders. Ugly, ugly, ugly. The mall sprawl: big boxes and power lines run amok and everything paved over and some shabby trees valiantly struggling for survival in little median strips of dirt. The local radio station has a retro show on during the noon hour and all this club music circa 1990 was playing while I ate my sandwich. Making me miss being twenty and going out dancing every week. Making me miss being cool, which I suspect I once was, for about a week. Sad, sad, sad. I feel like such an anachronism!

The evidence to support such a feeling: I was waiting for the photo store to print photos for me (item #1) and I had an hour to pass so I walked around the mall in search of something, anything, that would register anywhere on The Scale of Coolness, and found nothing. Except perhaps some Vans sneakers (item #2) I liked. But my lord, the shops these days. Dark and shuttered Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch, with thumping pop music and heavy perfume and naked surfer dude photos and flimsy seventy dollar cotton shirts. I'm either way too old to go into those places or I don't think I'm nearly old enough (item #3). Then the Gap: teeny tiny women's clothes that look to me like unpretty chiffon rags (item #4). And fifty dollar hoodies. And acrylic sweaters for much more than that. Acrylic! Nothing with any real style. Is it me? I remember having to travel to Boston or New York to find unusual shoes, so perhaps I'm still too fussy. Are there still good shoes, somewhere...? And record stores, and bookshops, and places to find cool clothing, and retro dance clubs for old people...? Wait, I think I'm stuck in a Nick Hornby novel. Funny what one old song on the radio can summon forth (item #5). See, a total anachronism.

At home here in the village, I know I can't go back in time, and I'm left with the distinct sense that someone who yearns to still be cool from time to time had best hang that hat up for good and move on. Or, be cool on the inside. Listen to vinyl records, read real books, make one-of-a-kind objects with your hands, wear logo-free cotton clothing scrounged from the local Goodwill. And if we are lucky enough to have shops of any kind nearby with any level of authentic coolness, for god's sake help support them by buying their stuff.

(footnote: Ryan says, as I tell him about my day of uncoolness, "You shouldn't have looked at the mall." Oh. Right.)

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