Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yes, and What Does It Mean?

Today, I couldn’t remember what the kitchen stools we had for more than 10 years looked like, what kind of car my dad drove for years or the word repudiate. Still cannot remember the first two, though the word wafted back into my head eventually. Is this brain surgery or senior moments? Who knows. Surely, it is a more positive thing than not to have had this medical adventure in middle age when forgetfulness was creeping insidiously along anyway, rather than in the previous years when it never happened and no thought of it ever doing so entered my consciousness. When the holes open up, which they do a lot, it’s frustrating, annoying and, at times, frightening. It’s relatively easy to compensate, be funny about it, keep going and to build connections with others over it, as the senior moment theme resonates with most of the people around me. None of that makes it comfortable. It would be nice if we learn on Wednesday that the medical tests revealed some imbalance in my brain chemistry that can be adjusted and that it will alleviate some of this. I’m trying to brace myself for another answer, and working on a positive attitude that will facilitate simply living with this from now on--including the possibility that it will keep getting worse.

On a happier note, Vancouver is breathtakingly beautiful, and we’ve had gorgeous, sunny, bright days in which to appreciate it. We’ve had a great trip and hope we can visit again sometime. The people are friendly and meet the stereotype of polite and nice Canadians. They also seem, to a person, to be acclimated to lower temperatures than we are. I rode in cars with a number of different drivers, and every single one opened many windows and sun roofs even when the air coming in seemed quite brisk to me. By all accounts, they had a hard and cold winter and even spring has been much delayed. (The Cherry Blossom Festival had to be cancelled, we were told, because the blossoms weren’t ready. They’re out now, and they’re stunning.) Maybe it’s the sunshine that made them all feel so much warmer than I did? Or my original theory about acclimating to the temperature range of where you live. Being so much colder than everyone outside made me think of our experiences in Grand Cayman after we got married. The lady who owned the cottage we rented, when we marveled at the climate, told us darkly to enjoy it, as they’d all almost died several years previously when the temperature had dropped for three days running. It go so cold, they almost all froze to death--it was as cold as 70 degrees three days in a row. Michael remembered an earlier visit he’d made to Newfoundland where the population was nearly perishing because it was 80 degrees. How could anyone be expected to breathe or move in such fatal heat?

Enlightenment hasn’t dawned upon me yet to explain why I’ve been thinking frequently about our front yard on this trip. There’s bound to be an interesting connection and I hope my addled brain (whether because it’s been traumatized or as a symptom of aging or some combination) will cough it up soon, as it’s frustrating me not to be able to close the loop. Here’s how the loop goes: When we bought our current house, we had grass in both the back and front yards. All these years later, we have grass in neither. We could still grow some in the back, except right now we have two young dogs and they’re harder on the grass than any other pair of dogs have been, so we finally just gave up and brought in loads of wood chips to cover all the mud. The front yard is a different story: the trees have grown so much that the encroaching shade preempts any grass. Even last year, we had enough grass that Michael got the mower out a few times to groom what was there. This year, we’ll have no grass anywhere. Michael and Shea started planting more shade-loving plants and ground cover a few years ago, stepping up the effort last fall with a whole slew of native woodland plants, as there simply isn’t enough sun to support grass any more. This year’s yard bears no resemblance to pictures from the year we bought the house, or Kearney’s first year, or even just a few years ago. The color and texture are completely changed, and it changes the look of the house. Both are nice looks and the house is still welcoming and attractive. It does have a different feel, though.

This gradual though dramatic change in the yard and how it frames the house seems significant in a way that I haven’t been able to connect to whatever is stimulating these thoughts. What does it mean for such change to occur? Has the train of thought been stimulated by the many AWOL memories and words? Something in recent work interactions? Some combination? Shea getting ready to go to college? I have no clue. If reading this from a distance, you see the link- undoubtedly plain as the nose on my face, as they say--please do share it with me. It would be a relief to connect it up and glean the meaning of the parable of the front yard.

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