Monday, March 31, 2008

Historically Average.

We made it, we made it, we made it, we made it. If you live elsewhere — if you live outside our Plagues of Egypt drought — then you maybe don't get so excited over a last-day-of-the-month soaker like we got treated to today. Cover the kids' ears: It is still fucking raining. Give or take, it's been raining since Friday. I remember this used to happen. Before. I remember this. But who cares who remembers what? Here's tonight's top story: We have exceeded, by a smidge, our monthly historical average. We missed in January by two inches. Over twelve months we're something like fifteen or twenty inches down. But we had March, friends and fans of weather. It rained this month. Remember?

And it was a beautiful rain, like a chilly version of the edge of a tropical storm, periods of serious rain and periods of drizzle. And from that kind of a direction, too, little bursts of energy up out of the south and, give or take, from the Atlantic. A gift. A strangeness visited upon the land. Now, people. Now is the time for the fatted calf.

Oh: Yesterday was the Presidential Opener. I had it half wrong. It was Opening Day yesterday, but today, beautifully, is Opening Day, too. Right now the Los Angeleses are visiting the Minnesotas on my TV. My grandmother refers to sports teams that way. The Dallases. Last night the Atlantas got their hearts broken. Walk-off home run. But today it rained. All day. Almost half an inch. Tomorrow we start the monthly count all over again. We're still mired in a pretty good and serious and true drought. Not nearly enough has changed. But in one small way, we made it. We made it, we made it, we made it. And it is still raining.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening Day.

A moratorium on photographs for a day or two, I think. I wonder if I haven't been cultivating or recultivating a pretty healthy fear of the written word here, and in sticky places, just tossing up a photograph of a thistle. Not that I often have the fear in quite the way that many of my friends and colleagues do, which is to say, I don't often get paralyzed by the blank screen. I'm fortunate in that way. My paralysis — or, more accurately, my misfirings, my crossed nervous signals — arrive(s) in the fear that the few hundred words I can shove out no problem are just that, shoved out, a kind of highish-minded well-intentioned badly faux-literary version of the Jumble. Which in our newspapers growing up appeared next to the Family Circus. Remember the mother's haircut? I remember that.

Our weather: Cold. Even the Weather Channel says so. I think we'd even get 'Cold' or 'Cool' if it was January. Thick low gray clouds and showers. The birds out there sound confused. We're not supposed to freeze. Spring comes back this week. Except that this too is spring, if I'm remembering correctly, and I know I am: It's Opening Day. The Red Sox and the Athletics have already played two that count in Japan, but we are not for our purposes going to count that. We really shouldn't count tonight — the Reds play at 1 tomorrow, which is as it should be, and the game tonight is the only one on the schedule, as opposed to the fullish slate tomorrow — but since it's the Braves tonight, ANYLF is happy to throw out a, if not the, first pitch.

More than enough people have written poems to baseball (Malamud, Burns, DeLillo, to name a few), so this can't be that. This is instead what Opening Day has always felt like to me, which is a return to something very basic, if something can be very basic. As opposed to simply basic. Baseball season starts again. One of my favorite ways to go to church as the half-assed grownup I've half-become is to put on a late Wednesday night game I don't much care about, a West-coast American league game like the Royals at the Mariners, maybe, to set the set to mute and put on some music and pour a low drink and sit in the back room and watch some kid throw left-handed middle relief until I'm sleepy enough to go to bed. I don't require that this be anyone's pleasure but mine, and I try not to proselytize too much outside of the pat shopworn line I'll deliver to my classes tomorrow — baseball season's begun; all's right with the world — because of what an easy lie that is to tell. So little is right with the world, except that it's spring again, and much is blooming and greening over. It's this and only this: For someone like me, having a game on TV, especially a Braves game (I'm from Atlanta), helps with all that is wrong.

My dad, when I was seven and eight and nine and ten or so, took me to Opening Days at the old round sixties-era Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. More accurately, Home Openers, as the Braves were so bad then as to generally not merit being at home on Opening Day. They were better off as cannon fodder for the 1 pm Cincy game. And here, friends and fans of those old Braves teams (remember Claudell Washington? Glenn Hubbard? Gene Garber, whose son I played Little League with?) and of weather: It was always bitterly cold. It was April, it was Atlanta, and the temps would be falling down through the forties and into the thirties up there in the cheap seats. We'd bring my dad's old army blanket, drab green wool with the shiny drab sateen edging, huddle with our Cokes underneath that thing, talk about how cold it was. Younger years, we'd (gasp; heresy) leave by the seventh inning or so. But once I was old enough, we'd stay all the way through, me, yes, with my cap and glove, and him telling me to be ready, be ready, a foul ball might come our way. Only once in my life has a foul ball come my way, when I was twelve, in Nashville, at a brutally hot and humid Sounds game, and my grandmother, to save me, shoved me somehow under my seat. The ball hit the arm of my chair. I was an All-Star that year. I could have caught it. She bought my cousin (who would later preside over my marriage to AMR) and me ice creams in those miniature batting helmets to make it up to us.

Baseball means there's only six weeks left of school. It means summer's coming. It means soon enough my ex-landlord will be arriving unbidden on the WeatherDeck to kidnap me to go to Winston or Danville for minor-league games. It means I'll sometimes go to the Disneyfied stadium here in Greensboro, a sad, sad improvement on the crumbling War Memorial Stadium the Bats used to play in. They're not even called the Bats anymore. I can't bring myself to say their new name here. But if summer's coming, it means that a new project is surely looming out there somewhere, the whatever comes next after the novel that's not even finished. The second novel. I think there is a second novel. Which is bound to mean some difficult evenings, some rudderless days, a week or six where I'll feel so fortunate to find the Pirates playing late and way up the dial at the Padres, a 9-6 affair in the fifth inning, a child called up from the minors already, in June, coming on in relief. He's got a good curve, but his control isn't so hot. He's bouncing it up there every now and then.

Those are the players I love to watch. The guys batting .212, the pitchers who can't find the strike zone. It's a kind of basic struggle, on display for anyone who wants to look. It's not any more or less American than anything else, and though I'm maybe more likely than most to get caught up in that particular and peculiar brand of Opening Day flag-waving (baseball! America!), I try my best to love it only and merely for what it is: it's the return of something long and complicated and basically meaningless. It's a sure sign of summer on a day that really ought to be cold. Needs to be cold for it to feel right, and it is: It's 40 degrees here. Just started raining again. It's going to rain some more. Tonight, in D.C. (forecast: cloudy, 40), the Braves play at the Nationals. They should have (re)named that team the Senators, but they didn't. Flawed from the start.

The Braves always lost. We'd come home and my mom would want to know how it had gone, even though she'd watched the thing on TV and knew perfectly well. I always wanted to know if she'd seen us. She always said maybe she might have, that she might have seen us really, really quickly as the camera panned the crowd. She couldn't be sure, though.

Baseball's back. No photography today, please, flash or otherwise. Just watch the game.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Busted Forecast.

This — this set-in kind of weekend-long rain — was not in the cards. My understanding was that we were supposed to get showers and maybe a few storms yesterday, followed by a much cooler sunny day today. But we'll take this over here at ANYLF. If it rains a little more today, a little more tomorrow — if the QPF can be believed — we may make our monthly average. I'll give us a quarter-inch so far for today, which carries the monthly total to within a little less than a half-inch of what we'll need. This is exciting stuff. If ANYLF had a ticker to run across the bottom of the screen, that's what it would be about. That and, um, the tree, which has, I'm fairly sure, passed the halfway point, blooming-wise.

It's cold here. It's gray. It'll be colder and grayer tomorrow. Both. Maybe more than all else weather, I love the rain.

Finally, in Please Step Away From The Camera, Sir news, we're probably going to have to get an intern to take this thing away from me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Classic Rock.

It turns out the weather comes every day.

Something's up with me lately, I think, something having to do with the large versus the small, and in terms of mental health, the small is often enough winning out. Current interests: The endless post-gaming of Tuesday night's poorly roasted potatoes; Phil next door cutting a 12"-by-12" hole in each end of an ancient fuel oil tank so DW Griffin Salvage will take the thing off his hands and thus somehow save him $150; things that bloom. I am a little too interested in things that bloom. Or bud. Or seed. We're all of us having spring. I myself am having it flower by flower.

There are big things out there: The novel, whatever comes after the novel, the university. Rest-of-one's-life kind of things. So I'm remedying all that by taking too-precious-by-half photographs of maple seeds. Whirlygigs, we called them growing up.

The new neighbor across the street — not Blue-Tick-Beagle Paul, but the other one, the one who sold Phil a nearly-brand-new Caddy (and as such, Phil is now tucking his shirt in when he leaves the house to drive that cream-colored bad boy), is at work on a kind of stem-to-stern reno of a house nearly identical to mine. New gutters. New floors. Today (he's a fancyass car dealer, brings a different awesomely rad car home every day) he's got a big Republican-white Beamer backed up to the front door, and he's blasting 92.3 The Wolf into the living room. You can look inside another world. You can talk to a pretty girl. She's everything you dream about. But don't fall in love. She's a beauty. She's one in a million girls. One in a million girls! Why would I lie? Now why would I lie?

When I was in high school, all I listened to was Z-93 and 96 Rock. When Layla would come on, my friend Chris Adams and I — he drove the same way home from school that I did — would pull over into some neighborhood and get out and stand by our cars with the windows rolled down and listen to Layla. I beg you darlin' please.

The weather, the weather, the weather. In today's forecast, we're looking for sunshine and maybe a few clouds, with a high right around eighty degrees. And folks, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a few pop-up thunderstorms this afternoon. It's almost a summertime pattern out there. We'll look for a low tonight in the upper forties, and there's a big cooldown coming for your weekend. Keep it tuned right here for the latest on that, and coming up at six, our picture of the week.

I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school. You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long, but then one thing leads to another. It's a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford.

We are, ah, in the middle of a rock block. For all I know, we may also be in the middle of a no-repeat work week. But we've covered this: for all I know, I do not know.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ruth's Bush.

My neighbor, Phil, calls this plant — we have two of them, actually, both on the northwest corner of the house — Ruth's Bush. I used to know the real name of it. No longer. What I know is this: It's an early-spring bloomer, and it fragrances the whole yard. Ruth planted it. She lived here before the philandering airplane pilot and his praise-music recording wife. They lived here before I did. Before we did.

I had in mind writing a ton here today, recording all the vagaries surrounding the fireplace weather in Virginia, the gusts to 40 mph up on the western slope of Mount Rogers, the general and healthy reminder of what cold is. But it's pushing toward the mid-seventies here in 27408, with gusts of our own, though nothing like 40 mph, and the petals from the Japanese magnolia are raining down each time the wind picks up, and the thin high clouds we had for most of the morning are burning off, and even though I'm not at all sure shade counts as weather, the effect of the blown-open blooms on the tree out front is that the WeatherDeck is in a kind of dappled shady splendor, begging for me to take my Spring-Breaked self out there with Per Petterson's so-far excellent Out Stealing Horses, to take the dog out there with me, to sit and read and sit and read.

It is so good to go to Virginia. All of you should go. If you go, and if you're wearing the right clothes, you will feel like this:

But if when you return the weather is like it is today, you will have to go outside and sit and read. Today's weather report is strikingly similar to yesterday's. I know this. That is because today's weather is strikingly similar to yesterday's. Tomorrow, friends, I will endeavor to complain mightily about the likelihood that we will have another precipitation shortfall for March. Today — today I am going back outside.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Both Seasons.

Much more, friends and fans of weather, tomorrow, when such things as plans and pictures can be sorted. AMR and I decamped the premises (27408) for Grayson Highlands (24363) for a couple of days under the following theory: if it's going to be winter, it might as well be winter. KFW reports snow here in 27408 sometime in the intervening period, which I'm pretty damn sorry to have missed, but I can happily report buckets of flurries Monday night in 24363, enough to accumulate a little bit; in other news, Ron Cooper, he of the rented-by-us Cabin on the Ridge, reasonable rates, reported this morning that yesterday morning featured a low of 16 degrees down by his house, well downridge from Cabin on the Ridge. They're in a frosthole, he explained. We were not 16 degrees uphill, but we were cold. Delightfully so.

Back down out of Grayson this morning and south and east through Sparta and Yadkin and again into spring. Just a quick day and a half in the mountains. Back down in the flat now, where things by and large are green. So warm this afternoon we lost our heads and decided to mow the lawn and put hot dogs on the grill. Which is where we are now. More spring tomorrow.

For our more visual learners:

Grayson, above. Greensboro, below.

Had our first azalea open up while we were gone. Hey, spring and winter both. Hey, 27408. Good to go away, good to come back home.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cold Tenth.

We're getting a little reminder this morning, a sort of don't-get-too-soft, don't-get-too-ready-for-June flag run up the pole: we're 36 degrees and genuinely chilly, gray and wet from a little early-morning rain, and we're headed maybe for a killing frost this evening. Items about which to worry: the leafed-out hydrangeas. The azalea up here by the WeatherDeck. Budded tulips. And the tree, always the tree— but I feel like we got the tree this year, and I don't want to get too greedy, so if 29 degrees takes out what's left of the petals, well, then, we got ours.

This is the sort of spring other, more regular places get, places like Franconia, Massachusetts, or some foggy damp Oregon town. Kansas. Places in Kansas get spring like this, don't they? A set-in cold day to remind you where you've come from. Down here on the Piedmont we have a tendency to relax too soon, to let a string of seven warm days become a kind of perfect sunny backyard golden calf. We let ourselves into April well before March is any kind of over. Which is reason enough to offer up a goat, actually, for a day like today: Here is another variety of spring, a kind which bears remembering, a kind that wants for you to drag that hooded sweatshirt out from the bottom drawer once more, perhaps. A kind that makes us just a little more kin to folks who have things like snowmelt. Whose flowering trees are only just now showing buds. Who never even put that sweatshirt back away in the first place.

It's cold. We got a tenth of an inch of rain. We may, if we're lucky, get a little bit more. Now put a hat on and get out there in it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Official Spokescharacter.

Maybe Easter Sunday is to blame for my crazed affection for all things weather. We had around our house, first at Goodfellows Road and later at Brandon Ridge Drive (the latter a street, actually, in the woods made semi-famous in the odd, odd Mark Trail comic strip), all the regular Easter trappings: Easter basket, new Easter ties, Easter dinner with the good china and the silver and the etcetera. But at church — Holy Innocents' Episcopal — there was a white wooden cross drug out from somewhere on Easter Sunday which had chicken wire bounded within the wood and into which chicken wire the children of the congregation, at a set moment during the service, were to put flowers brought from home: daffodils, tulips, dogwood branches, seasonally depending. This was more Easter for me than anything else. My mother would keep a close eye on developments in the outside world, keeping keen track of the forecast, of her flowerbeds, looking always for what we boys might be able to bring to church for the chicken-wire cross. She may even have planted the garden specifically so that, no matter what, something would be blooming at the appointed time. I remember shining shocking Easter Sundays — weather like what we had yesterday here in 27408, a day so warm and overwhelmingly perfect that neither AMR or I could bring ourselves to do anything other than lie in the lawn all afternoon with the animals — and I remember sleety ones, too. Frozen ones. But I remember that regardless, whether we had snow or rain or heat or gloom of night, we always had flowers for the kiddie cattle call to the altar. I do not believe we once bought them at the store. My mother had some kind of agreement with the weather.

That Goodfellows Road yard, if I'm remembering right, had seven billion daffodils. I also remember a backyard expanse so large that comic strips should have been written about that acreage instead. A highlight: In center-left field, somehow just out in the middle of the grass, there was a tangle of thorns we called the Bye-bye Bed. Must have been two stories tall. At least. Hit a ball in there, and there would be no Easter Miracle to bring it back. No need even to wait vigil at the mouth of the cave. It would just be gone.

A quick spin through the internets, by the way, results in this little gem:

Elrod [ANYLF note: Jack Elrod drew/wrote Mark Trail] was honored in 1988 by President Reagan for his efforts to develop more pride in America. In addition to a Sunday page in which Mark Trail urged everyone to "reduce carelessness and abusive activity such as littering, vandalism and theft, and wildlife poaching," Elrod has also produced a variety of materials for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help teach schoolchildren respect for the environment. In addition, Mark Trail is now the official spokescharacter for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), making him the voice of the National Weather Service and NOAA Weather Radio.

Jesus seems a little something like a spokescharacter to me these days. He's in a damn lot of coloring books and comic strips, for starters.

On the way home from work Friday, there was out in the front yard of a church on Highway 70 what I think has to be the worst crucifixion reenactment I've ever seen: some nearly-naked high school kid wearing a bad long wig and up on a lumberyard cross, and a bunch of people standing around underneath him in what were clearly bedsheets and flip-flops. It was a beautiful day. Warm. Breezy. It was the kind of day to do what the handful of little kids who were there were doing: running around in street clothes (as opposed to crucifying clothes) and playing in the yard and in the little cemetery next door. It seemed a pretty bad day to be half-assedly crucifying people. Jesus had some Crayola-red paint on his chest. The soldiers and Jerusalemites both were standing around trying to remember how to look when you're supposed to look sad.

I don't probably want to get in the business of choosing churches, but I think I'll take instead a week of looking out the window, hoping like hell that the freeze won't take out your daffodils. I'll take, too, so long as we're here, what happens after you hit a towering shot out towards left, the tennis ball leaping off your metal bat championship-style, you knowing even in the moment right after you hit it where it's going to land, knowing what that's probably going to mean.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vernal Equinox.

So it seems altogether possible that the vernal equinox occurred yesterday. Which would be a fairly significant error on the part of ANYLF, except that around these parts we're treating it like Lincoln's Birthday or Easter, which is to say, we're moving the feast, so the big Welcome Spring! office party with sheet cake and hats and streamers and even a raffle will be this afternoon in the conference room at the end of the hall. Sherbet punch. Cookies. Bring your kids and spouses. I've got beer in my office for those of you who can't take the prospect of sherbet punch.

And, for those of you once again (remember the eclipse? the solstice?) holding up oranges and grapefruits and basketballs at home, and you know who you are, here's an equinoctorial (!) diagram, but without the accompanying text. This is all having something to do with the sun being halfway between X and Y, with today (yesterday?) marking the interstitial space between June and December. I'm pretty fond of the scale of the yellow man in each part of this little visual aid.

Equal day and night. A novel idea. Half and half. A negotiation. I feel strange this week, like everyone knows all the words to the play but me, but the weather's so good that I almost have to like it this way. Maybe this muddling between seasons is what there is to like. Maybe there are only three or four days each year where we can be mathematically sure about our spot in the sky. Maybe the rest of the time it's just left to us to guess.

We're mathematically sure the rest of the year, too, is the thing. We have been for hundreds of years. We just don't tend to make any big deal out of it. It's the pretty numbers that get our attention, the ones marking start and stop and midway between. Regardless: It's bright and warm out there today, friends and fans of weather. It is the day after the day of. If you have not been outside today, then you need to go outside.

Lastly, from Campbell McGrath, whose poems I was privileged to teach to a terrifically intelligent if semi-apocalyptic student underneath the Chinese fir in 27244 today, one last wee attempt at responsibility before Spring Break:

This is for all those trapped within the body of desire. This is for all those fleshed with the alien muscle of need.

This is for those who would walk the avenue and say

I am sufficient in the sunlight and mercy of this day, I will have none of what you offer, no longer does my marrow ache with wanting, I crave for nothing, though I am hungry I shall hunger no more.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Japanese Magnolia.

The tree bloomed. For those of you scoring at home, this is a drought-impacted version of all this: about half the flower output that we've had in past years. But. Still.

Here's North Carolina spring: The fancies want to drop seventy entire degrees on us on Saturday. Then they think they might perhaps want to give us a little snow Monday night. At the very least they're calling for a little syrupy rain.

We used to say around here that it always snows in March. That was then. But still. Find my friend Jim Clark in the meat section at the Harris Teeter and he'll scowl at you and tell you it always snows in March. Always has, still does. Then he'll snag the deeply-discounted sell-it-today don't-look-too-closely-at-it ribeye you were eyeing, and he'll be gone. Vanished. Because that, friends and fans of weather, is the way it works.

The tree bloomed. It was a weird, heavy day, sunlight like a parcel I was carrying around, and the tree bloomed anyway. Or as a result of all that. Or completely independently of all of it. Let's go with that last one. That's the one that makes sense.

In other news, there is no other news.

Spring Rain.

A perfect, beautiful, midnight band of showers, reeking of aluminum, of grass, of pavement. A spring rain. The overpowering difference: this fall, when something happened, we clouded up, but got no rain. Each and every time the weather's shifted so far in February and March, though, we've gotten something out of it. I'm guessing we just picked up another quarter-inch in the last half-hour.

Well worth waiting up for.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Storms Again.

Stormy out there. Or pre-stormy. There's a pretty serious line — a swath, really, a shield — of showers pulling through Alabama and Tennessee and into Georgia on its way, surely, towards us. The mountains may break up some of that, but this storm looks big, another in a succession of big March lows that threaten, friends and fans of weather, to pull us even further away from our little experiment in deep and abiding drought. This thing put down thirteen inches of rain in Missouri. We may get as much as an inch.

It smells like storm, like spring. The forsythia are blooming, and some of the fruit trees, and the Japanese magnolias, and even a white azalea over on the side of one of the dorms here at 27244. It sits next to the HVAC unit and up against a wall that takes a good shot of afternoon sun, so it's early, but still. They're cutting the lawns here today, and so there is the sweet film of that riding out over the top of everything. I may at some point have to cut my own lawn back in 27408. My roses have leafed out. The hydrangea is starting in. The humidity is way up. The breeze is warm. Today is the kind of gray that somehow makes things seem greener.

I am slowly, slowly starting to feel like we might be about ready for this. Like we may finally have reached the point where we've earned it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Low Clouds.

And today, a gray March day, but somehow better, different: perhaps it's that I finally dragged ass across the street last night and knocked on the door and said, Paul, it's about those beagles. Full disclosure: They were still barking tonight. But somehow it's better— I went over there and Paul talked to me about pea gravel and interest rates and beagles and how he grew up in this neighborhood and indeed he did agree to try to keep them beagles from barking, and indeed I did agree to try to believe him.

He gave me his phone number. We're to call if it's again 2:45 a.m. and the beagles are, well, barking.

I have a thing. Can't help it. Repetitive noises. They make me homicidal. Dripping water. Flappy item caught in the car A/C vent. Barking dogs.

But all day long it was low and gray and still I was triumphant in my suburban diplomacy. This is what was wrong with me yesterday. Doom. Loss of hope. Prospect of overnight barking forever. So last night I stood in the driveway, beagles going apeshit, and then somehow I found the courage to go over there. I am maybe not a brave man. I am maybe more of a shouter than a fighter. Still. So.

Rain in the forecast for tomorrow. Tree still not fully in bloom. Hell: let the wind and hail come. Just make the dogs be quiet, and I will give it all back. Give us another half-inch and we can negotiate. Late night. Weather inside and out: Quiet. Maybe another ice cube, maybe a little bourbon. Low clouds. Gray. Cool. Quiet. And every possibility things will stay that way. And every possibility they won't.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Headed Out.

Chilly and sunny to start the day. High clouds smoothing in over the top of everything now. Still chilly, like the weekend storm came through and took us back down into March. We've got a kind of high still gray-whiteness covering most everything. Filtered light. Sunlight through a t-shirt, or a piece of typing paper. A very, very big piece of typing paper.

The weather project has turned difficult, suddenly, even as we've broken out of D-4 drought (exceptional) and dropped back into D-3 (extreme). What to say about such a thing as that? That we're now less likely to die immediate, parched deaths? And there's the problem: I do better when I'm looking out the window, cheering storms in, counting up half-inches in the rain gauge. I do better when I'm some way other than this, which is to say, when I am other ways than as though a skein of thin clouds has blown in over the top of everything. Or a skint. The first year I took fall break up in Grayson, it snowed, sort of, such that there was a kind of rimed crust on everything. The woman who'd rented me the place came down in her blue pickup that morning to pick up her check. Did it snow? I asked her. I think it snowed.

Maybe just a skint, she said.

Maybe I need the little deaths of fall. Somehow all these trees just starting to leaf has me melancholy. Or maybe it's just that the goddamned beagles across the street barked this morning from 4 to 5. Amazing what plans involving Molotov cocktails and antifreeze will do to your mood.

I shouldn't complain. Before the clouds came in, I prepped my class in lawn chairs even though it was too cold to do it. Wore my heavy flannel shirt, faced my chair into the sun, huddled down into myself, read my 79 pages. And now, even as I finish this up, aim for the truck, for my porch, for those beagles, the sun's broken back out again. It's colder out there than it looks. Maybe that's what's got me. I'm looking out the window. I am. I'm even headed out into it. I just can't quite tell what it's doing out there.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Little Storm.

There may be bigger ones behind all this, but what we've had this afternoon has been a steady, easy rain, some thunder, no wind. Dark, dark gray out there. Gentle. Workaday. A voicy, gorgeous storm.

In places south, they had no such luck. South Carolina's getting hammered. Atlanta's been hit several times over. Down east it looks like they may catch a good deal of that. But as for us and our kind here, a lucky draw.

Not much else to report. If you live south or east, hang on tight. If you live here, step out on your porches.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Bees.

Today, during outside office hours, there were new bees. And wasps. As in, last week, and the week before, there were not bees. Or wasps. And now there are.

Hey, deeply fascinating info about wasps and bees.

Another surpassingly springlike day. A college brochure day. A day for college boys to go up onto the roofs and drink beer and sit in lawn chairs and play some of that rock and roll music on their hi-fis. Which they were doing. I was on my way to a meeting. Walking. They were up there doing that. Back down on the ground, there was also much throwing of balls and frisbees on the lawn. Shorts and short skirts. Everybody exceedingly fit, those fuckers. I did not so much have a crush on the entire student body today as the fact that I just wanted desperately to be them, to be twenty again, for a day. That was what kind of day it was out there, people. If you held one eye right and didn't catch a glimpse of yourself in the storefront windows, you forgot you weren't twenty. Then your knees hurt and you remembered you hadn't paid the mortgage yet, and, well. But.

Back here in dumbass grownup land, the tree watch continues. It's blooming up top a little bit. Showing color everywhere. We survived the first round: no storms today. But they're pretty much promising storms tomorrow. And those Sunday night temps are still looking frosty.

All that sun. Brand spanking new bees. Storms riding in. Oh, youth and beauty.

(Also, I definitely saw a young red-tailed hawk try to catch/eat a squirrel. Beautiful bird. I couldn't tell which to cheer for. The squirrel got away fine.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Go Crazy.

OK, people. OK. This is the only entry I knew was coming for sure and certain when I started this project. We are now officially on semi-panicked freeze watch and wind watch. It may get as low as 33 degrees Sunday night. We're supposed to get thunderstorms tomorrow and Saturday. All the interns need to report to the front desk. Battle stations, please. The Japanese magnolia is showing color.

What to do about all this? Well, if you'll open the packets I've prepared for each of you, you'll see that in certain years past we have had the tree hit by freeze, thus resulting in the flowers turning brown and frozen and dead and dropping onto the driveway and causing the deep and abiding sadness here at ANYLF. There is also this: A big wind will knock flowers off if they're already in bloom, and a bigger wind will take buds down no matter what. So. Between now and, oh, Tuesday, I'm going to have to ask each of you to check the forecasts as often as possible, to look endlessly out the window during any and all wind gusts, to consider such lunacies as lighting charcoal fires underneath the tree Sunday night in the hopes that you can keep the buds from freezing. Which you cannot. There is nothing you can think of that will help. The tree gets right at all of the parts of you that are most damaged— you love it a little more than you should, and there's nothing at all in the world you can do to do anything for it other than to wait and freak out and check the three local TV stations and The Weather Channel and NOAA. All the time. Any other time of year at all you want the crazy TV weather types showing you the big red L, the track of the storm, the jagged cold front, the possibility of a late freeze. For these ten days you want still damn quiet. The tree, the tree, the tree. Your wife cannot understand what the hell is wrong with you. But you know. You know. This is why you're interning here at ANYLF. We are all the same in this regard. Aren't we? We are. So stick with me on this one, kids, and I'll write you glowing rec letters when the term's over. OK? OK. Now go back outside and take ten more pictures of buds.

Oh. Right. The weather? Yesterday: perfect. Today: better. It's tomorrow we need to worry about. So start worrying.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Willow Leaves.

They're always first. One more thing easily forgotten, easily enough remembered again. I saw them — always see them, I now realize — on the off-ramp from Wendover to Bryan, off by the reclaimed drainage creek, headed down into the little park there, along a leftover fairway from when all that office park and hospital business was a public golf course for this neighborhood, back in the fifties, I believe. Way back when. Long, long ago. In the time, children, when people played out-of-doors. Willows. Old ones, tall, and always the first thing to leaf back out— tiny leaves, light, light green, almost yellow, like strings of lights all up and down the branches. Next up ought to be the Bradford Pears in bloom, if they didn't get nailed in the weekend freeze, and also the Japanese magnolia out front, already this evening showing deep color in spots. Should be tomorrow or the next day. It seemed to survive those two 27-degree nights. The Bradfords all over everywhere had sort of halfheartedly started in, and out in 27244, most of them look well frozen along the main college drag there, blooming a kind of sad tan, but the magnolia here kept all but ten or twenty of its buds closed through all that. Breaks my heart when that tree gets hit. If I'm lucky, though, and if the creek don't rise and the weather holds, I'll have to find something else to break my heart this year.

We clouded over late this afternoon. Rain well south, for the most part. A low over Florida, and while there are some spotty showers east, I don't think we stand much of a chance. They want to assign us sixty-seven entire degrees tomorrow. With sun. Please insert here the rain lament. Except that those same they want to give us rain toward the end of the week, and maybe a few times next week, too, and so if we do get all sixty-seven of those degrees, and if it is sunny, and if the tree does bloom, and if the beagles across the street can keep it to themselves for an evening hour or two, well, then, all or some of this might turn out OK.

Click yourselves on over to that drought monitor. We're among the last lucky few to stay in D-4, which is something like apocalyptic rapture drought, but that area's getting smaller each week. Atlanta broke out. Greenville broke out. We could be next. Even with sixty-seven degrees and sun, we could be next. Get out in your yards tomorrow night, friends and fans of weather. Check on your trees. See what's coming along.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brief Update.

Late this afternoon, a kid came to see me to tell me he couldn't write any more, that it was too hard, and as much as I sometimes feel that way, too, that's not what this is about — this is about where we had the conversation, which was outside, under the Chinese fir that's off the corner of the building holding my wee strange office, and somehow the sunlight was changed, was dampened, was that long yellow I associate with April and May and even June, and now already this is what I had to say yesterday, which is the grave danger of the weather report, but still, this was the return of the lawn chair office hours, and, as such, the possible return of one part of my sanity, and so, let me just say, Hey, spring.

Write more, I told him. You've only ever written four stories. Ever. You have no idea if you can write any more.

Blisteringly sunny. Almost warm. Sun in the sky all the way home. Time still weird. Write and read. Read and write. Advice I need to take more seriously myself.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moderate Unrest.

A day where all the clocks are broken. A free hour. Or one taken away. It seems too soon for this, like we haven't earned it, and the weather's all wrong: my time in this town is measured by the cold snap in April that comes well after the time change, a whiskey in a glass on the trunk of the car and long sleeves and one last chance to pull on a watchcap and stand on Carr Street under the blooming wisteria and light smudge fires in the rows of tomatoes planted way too soon, the sky still light at 7:30 and everybody wondering if it will really freeze. But this? This is no cold snap. It's meant to be cold still. It hasn't even occurred to me to plant tomatoes. I haven't even pulled the cages out of the ground from last year. To be clear: I love Daylight Savings Time with all my heart and all my soul. There is nothing better than sitting on the porch and watching a watery dusk set in and looking up and realizing it's 8:30. But we should have to deserve all that. It's too soon to say it's too light out for it to be this cold. I'm worried that along with all else we may have legislated away the tail end of winter.

But there was that white-blue sky, and a Sunday drive with the dog in the truck to school and back to run an administrative errand of the type that comes with this job at this time of year, which in light of the above now seems almost regulatory, almost welcome. I will take the odd March reminder. And I will take last night's moon, and tonight's, thin slivered rips in the cleaned-out sky, and I will take Orion, further and further west in the after-dark: We are well our way, and even in today's cold there was a heat in the sun, a promise of what might be in store later in the week, color just now showing on the buds on the Japanese magnolia out front. The drought has budded that tree out at about half its regular showing this year, but there are still buds nonetheless, and still the ends of this week's crocus bloom beneath it, still the daffodils, still the tulips coming well along. My only complaint, then, is that moving all this time change up steps right down on anticipation, leaves us out of what used to be a kind of magnificent purgatory, the darkened back-and-forth of March. What's March for, if it isn't to wonder about how long it might stay light? And we were moving along well enough under our own power— in the past couple of weeks we'd stretched on past six o'clock and towards six-thirty—

Too easy for all this to become lament. On the dogwalk late this evening, sun still up at seven, there was the clear and sure smell of cut grass. And for dinner, on our potatoes, chives that wintered through. All of that's too early, too, of course, but it is here, and I cannot push it back, and soon enough the mint will be up, and a ball game on the radio, and there is enough of me ready for those things, desperately sentimental or no, that when tomorrow morning comes, and the sun is not shining through my window at 6 a.m., and the cats hang on one more hour before banging on the goddamn door for breakfast, I will be happy. Worried. Unsettled. Nervous about what time it is, what the weather might be. But happy. I think. I hope.

Spring forward, friends and fans of weather. Fall back.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sky Blue.

We picked up a second half-inch very early morning and it is now 62 degrees, as warm as it will be all day — we're headed for 26 degrees overnight. There appears to be snow as far south as Auburn, Alabama. I don't think any of that's going to make it here, but that's a big, big storm out there. Our wind has to be 20 mph steady. They want to give us gusts to 45 mph. Kids, this is going to be a pretty big day for your ANYLF coloring books. You're going to want the box of 64. The 16 is just not going to cut it. You're going to want Burnt Sienna. You're going to want both Blue-Green and Green-Blue. Turn to the "Intensifying Low Pressure in the Mid-Atlantic" section, and remember: stay within the lines, please. This is serious business. No coloring Jesus' beard Periwinkle. Or Blue-Violet.

We're sunny and windy and warm and every damn daffodil I've got is in fierce bloom, and since I spent all day yesterday finding ways to half-assedly bitch about weather we were or weren't having, and since I also spent all day yesterday sprinting between increasingly unfortunate, increasingly torpor-ridden meetings, I'm going to sign off for now, throw it back to you in the studio for a look at the national map, for the fancier storm totals. We got ours, it turns out. It wasn't the 18" of snow they picked up in Fox, Arkansas, but it was two different sorts of rain and a heavy, heavy late-night fog and, finally, a windy squall this morning that very nearly salvaged the old QPF. What I can tell you, people, is that this is not a good day to rake. Maybe also not so much with the being up on ladders out-of-doors. It's too windy. Leave all that for tomorrow. Today is a day for other tasks. Another cup of coffee. A walk around the yard. A planning period.

We just had a gust of wind all but blow the cat in off the screen porch. He looks confused. I would be, too.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Local Conditions.

9:15 a.m.
It's raining, a slow steady rain, clouds a white flat dome. The birds are keeping at their business right on through it, and we've got the regular percussion of tires on wet pavement out front. On days like this, I love our stop sign. The fancies took the QPF down a peg, but I still think we might get lucky— so cross your fingers out there, friends and fans of weather. I'd give us maybe a tenth so far, maybe just a little less. Today's an odd day, one that'll have me running for give or take the next twelve hours, but keep it tuned right here, folks, for the very latest, for all of the other ways to say it's raining, or still raining, for all the other ways to describe the sodden sky.

12:09 p.m.
Heavy rain in 27244, and looks like the same back in 27408— but they're already revising downward, and I'm already getting sad. We'll be lucky, now, to get an inch. Not that I should complain about that, but there's something of the old snow forecasts from when I was a kid in all this, something like looking outside and seeing that it's snowing but not sticking, or waking up to snow but not enough of it to keep you home. I'm doing my best, though, to be happy with what we're getting. Like when I got a new bike for Christmas the year I was 10 — it wasn't a Diamondback, but it was still a bike.

4:02 p.m.
It appears to have broken into showers in 27408. We may get another shot late, like we did with the last storm. Looks like about a half an inch so far, which is no small potatoes, but which is maybe not quite worthy of the, ah, QPF excite-o-ree, and maybe not quite worthy of the frequent frantic updates. There is, though, this: It was (is still, here in 27244) a beautiful, perfect rain, more soft than not, which promises to soak in rather than run off, good for recently tilled gardens, good for emergent bulbs, good for the trees, good for weathery types. It rained. It's chilly. Yesterday it wasn't. And didn't. Yesterday was warm. Clear. This counts, I think, as weather.

12:11 a.m.
Big fog.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Extra Hoo.

I don't know what Mayflowers bring, but we're getting our April showers early, like everything else. This was not in the forecast when I worried about the ten-day last week. Maybe Tuesday's big storm was enough to wrinkle our weather pattern. And, locals, no, I haven't gone crazy. It's crisp and cool and so sunny that the first thing I did this morning was just open the door and stand in it, listening to the jays scream at each other, to the wrens, to the towhees, and to what my Peterson's Guide suggests was a Great Horned Owl, with its "resonant hooting of 3-8 hoots. Male usually 4 or 5, in this rhythm: hoo, hoo-oo, hoo, hoo." Sometimes he added an extra hoo.

But back to our top story, which is this:

That's the super-cool QPF from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, the link to which is over and down on the right in the long bar of weird weather shit I play with all the time. QPF: Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts. The short of all this? (a) The QPF is very, very cool. Like at least as cool as the deck of cards my brothers and I had when we were little that had pictures of very super-cool sportscars on them—Ferarris, Bugattis, Lamborghinis. From time to time we'd go through them all, eliminating cars until we were down to our top ten coolest, or top five. Then we'd fight about which one was the super-coolest. I was eleven or twelve. They would have been eight. This was desperately important business. (b) They—the QPFers—want to give us an inch and a half of rain. Maybe even a little more.

And the NOAA dudes—how did I miss out on being part of this? How is it I do what I do and not instead go to work at the National Weather Service? I was a member of the AV club in high school, for chrissakes. Doug Barbin and I were the AV club, in fact, the chief benefit of which was that I got to attach the tiny expensive microphones to the girls in the talent show, which placed me in very close proximity to those girls, and to those girls' bodies, which ruled—the NOAA dudes want it to set in tomorrow as a steady all-day rain, one of those low-skied spring rains, and then they want to give us very late-night or early-morning thunderstorms. Here is how good this is: It is like I have won the argument, and the Lamborghini Countach LP500 is the coolest car ever. It is like Kerri Gates, captain of the cheerleading team but also somehow unapologetically in orchestra, is dressed up like a bee and getting ready to play Flight of the Bumblebee on her violin and someone is going to have to help her with the microphone situation.

Once, Kerri Gates and I spent an entire class period in the band office making those folded cut-out paper snowflakes together. I do not remember how or why this happened. I remember only that it did happen. My senior year of high school. I had a girlfriend. It wasn't anything like that. It was just that there I was, eighteen years old, sitting in a very small room with the captain of the cheerleading team, upon whom I'd had a crush since I'd been aware of my own skin, making paper snowflakes. How is it that these things matter to us even after we've spent years and years learning that, in fact, they do not much matter?

Tomorrow is a good day for a rain hat. A heavy shirt. The boots you don't mind getting wet. The QPF is in, and the news is good. I am the biggest fool who ever lived.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Watch, Warning.

It was gray all day yesterday, but we started getting rain right about four o'clock, after I finally ended a lawn chair conference with a student, after I'd gone one more time around about how she should be using her voice, dammit and please, and not some lofty poetry voice, and she used a series of words like metacognitive that I don't very well understand, which was good, because in essence I was able to point at her, physically point, and say, That. Don't do that. Whatever that was. Don't do it.

OK, she said. And pretty soon after that it started raining.

It was worse in 27244 and surrounding environs than it was back here, back home, such that once there had been wind damage at the football stadium, the university found it proper to put up a red warning banner on the website warning us about warnings and watches. We were warned. Don't say they didn't warn us. Or tell us to watch. And that afternoon bout of wind was serious, good, efficient and over quickly, a few limbs down and then a nice long settling-in kind of rain, a rain for the flowering fruit trees which soon enough will have to start in on the show. Kids out on the quad playing in the puddles. Kids in hundred-dollar designer galoshes. One young woman walking towards the journalism building in a black cocktail dress and holding a TV camera tripod. No umbrella. Not in a hurry. It rained all evening.

And we got a second round, a stranger round, a more violent round, new thunderstorms barreling through well after dark. Some of the cells came across eastern Guilford and Alamance, through places like Whitsett and Sedalia and McCleansville, at 70 mph. We were driving home in that, though odd downbursts of hail and wind-driven rain and clumpings of lightning like I hadn't seen in a long time— not a lot of cloud-to-ground, but more than enough cloud-to-cloud pulsings to make me wonder about tornadoes, which made me remember that if and if, we'd want to pull the car over, get out, find a ditch. Stop, drop and roll. Or just stop and drop.

They lost roofs east of Elon. We came through it unscathed. The dog was none too pleased with me, but the yard's in good shape, and our roof is where we left it. The airport's reporting almost an inch and a half. Here we picked up one clean inch.

I was so relieved yesterday when it turned out my student was just misguided, and not untalented. She thought poems were supposed to hike up their pants, clear their throats, tell us something, and then tell us about how they'd told us that thing, and then go on and tell us still more about what it meant. The academy has harmed her. She wasn't aware, I don't think, that she could work towards the thing for the sake of the thing itself, that she could just show us what she felt was worthy of our attention and then try her level best to stand aside. But I'm kind of a city girl, she said. I don't think I could write about nature. Could I write about things that happen inside, instead? Cups of coffee? Or, how about if I just show the lovers in bed, but don't explain too much about it? Thank god, I said. Get out of here. I think it's getting ready to storm.

This morning we're scoured and cloudless, warm but not as warm. We are tilting, in a sure and certain way, out of winter. The lawns are just starting to green over. I love a good storm.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Low Pressure.

The dog refused to go back inside after the dogwalk, and so we're coming to you live from the WeatherDeck, where the humidity is approximately 250% and the wind is gusting to 30 or so mph, if we take an average of what the fancies are reporting. ANYLF has no anemometer, though a day like today makes me want one. At least one of those roosters mounted to the roof. Storms are coming. There isn't any doubt of that. This thing has cleared the mountains and already come back together and is giving hard rain to places like Gastonia and Yadkinville. We're next. Grab those sheets and towels off the line. Stack up the green plastic chairs.

I tried all morning to figure a way to stay home with the dog, who cannot abide such things as hail and wind, but it turns out I have a job. That I have to go to. Most days. I intend to spend all afternoon figuring out how to get out from underneath that.

A spring storm. Interesting. I think I remember this.

In other news, the crocuses bloomed. They're the only thing in the city that's doing anything at the right time. Everything else feels about two weeks ahead. Which is how I feel, come to think of it. Like my calendar's a little bit damaged. I'm fine, for the most part— I just can't quite get my head wrapped fully around what time it is, what day it is. I'm just slightly off. What we need is a good solid rainstorm. Maybe a cool snap. Some sort of modifying, regulating influence. Slow us back down just enough to have time to look at everything that needs looking at. Like the crocuses. Easy to miss.

Rain's coming. Go roll up the car windows. Bring in the tools. Be prepared.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sharp Pleasure.

Sometimes I forget about the things that are remarkably simple, lke one beer on the porch with the dog after work. And that decompression starts in my office— grab whatever books I need for tonight, lock the door, walk out through the quad to the parking lot, which is always a pleasurable walk, but especially in this kind of weather. I love my job in many ways, but the walk out of the building at the end of a long day, the sun low and long on the lawn— that's a good walk. Done for today, start working to get ready for tomorrow. And then the drive home, past the mulch place, the Brightwood, the Sedalia Post Office, the Food Lion, the auto parts stores, the fire station, the churches. In the right weather it's not hard, even in the face of increasing sprawl — yet one more CVS — to love Highway 70.

It's not that we don't do the porch in the winter, the dog and I. We do. Especially early winter, when it's a novelty still, the chilly evenings falling off to even chillier. Long sleeves weather. But something happens in late January, early February— we hibernate a little, we go in. And in is not so good for me. I love in, but I need it in small doses. Hang on long enough, though, and you get a warm snap, an odd early March evening holding on to the sixties well past when it should, and there's that one beer in the back of the fridge, and the dog, Pavlovianally tuned, gets up and out of the bed when you snap the cap off, and you two go out there, and if the breeze blows right you can smell the daffodils and the pansies, and the dogs across the street are not barking, and there's something involving shrieking and perhaps fireworks at the high school a couple of miles away, a kind of dull fall roar, all wrong for the season but perfect, somehow, quiet, like a kind of washed noise, a heartbeat, not at all the same as two goddamned barking blue tick beagles, and you and the dog sit there on the steps, not in the chairs, because this is not the time for chairs— you sit on the steps and watch the sky work its way from white to dark, dark blue. You drink the beer. You offer her the end of the bottle. She's eleven.

What's that Sandra Alcosser line? "In the icebox,/one tropical beer, a succulent lime./Cooling. With what sharp pleasure I would welcome/company into my life."

It was way, way too warm today. Sun, wind. It was too much for us. More than we deserve. It was a day that belonged much more to April. The fancies are forecasting something fairly serious for us tomorrow — hail, storms, wind, frogs — so this is the day that got cooked up out ahead of all that. And I will take it. I will take the dog and the porch and the one beer and — what the hell — maybe some company. What sharp pleasure that would be.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Transplant Shock.

Just in under the wire here at ANYLF: 11:22 makes it still today, March 2.

The particulars: A high of 64, a low of 31. More sunshine than I was sure what to do with, which meant mainly a lot of coffee and some porch sitting with the dog, who fell asleep in the sun almost right away. She's accustomed to a morning nap basically upon waking up. Hers is the kind of gig I need to pursue for myself.

Was it warm today? It was warm. Don't be alarmed: We'll snap cold and gray soon, no problem. For today, though, it was warm. And it was the kind of day the city council would want to have you in town for. See the way the sunlight glints off our revitalized downtown? We revitalized that, and that, and that. Oh, and that. Over there. In the sunlight.

I helped a friend transplant two azaleas this afternoon, huge things that were snugged up against the side of his concrete porch, such that semi-abstract concepts like, oh, I don't know, long-handled-shovel-based leverage were all but out of the question. First one came out in about half an hour. The second one took the next two. If I'd known I needed to be physically, corporeally in the hole with the thing, arms wrapped around what root ball was left, heaving myself into what will be the sleep of the just this evening, I would have started there. These were plants the size of low bookshelves. Sun bottoming out in the sky by the time we were done. Cold beer in clear bottles. Mud in my ear. That catch in my chest that comes with being outside all day. Like I'm allergic to the world. Which, hell, I may be. Would not make any damn difference.

No waxing nostalgic for something that happened six hours ago. First and foremost, we need rain, or else it won't matter how big that root ball was. But so long as we're here: When I was a kid, planting and transplanting was something just below the eucharistic in my family. Big deep holes for new trees, new shrubs, any move of any plant that needed any luck. Here: Dig a hole about half again as big as the root ball of the plant in question. Fill the hole halfway with water. Drop the plant down in there, fill in about half the dirt, and get dirty— crush up the soil as it goes back in. No air pockets. Water again, make a mud slurry, and then fill the thing in the rest of the way. Last, make a ring (of soil) around the plant to hold water.

For transplants, dig out as big a root ball as you can even imagine lifting.

There's maybe a metaphor in all this, but I'll take a page from the dog, which is to say, given the choice, let's just take a nap on the porch, and sort all this out some other time.

It was spring today. There's a lot else to be said, but for now, we can start there.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

In: Lion.

There was a warm spring wind and the smell of rain and even actual rain, however briefly, on a late-night dogwalk last night, but there was never even enough rain to make the street entirely wet— just freckled with the very last remnants of the very bottom end of the storm that did, in fact, hold together over the mountains, but came entirely apart as it crossed us. It rained west, and then it rained east after it came back together, and what we got out of it was a hint, a promise, a half-hour on the porch with the dog right around eleven last night and a small whiskey and an odd warmness to the wet air and deep thick cloud cover and all that wind.

So we miss by a hair's breadth for February, by a ton for January, and what it all means is that while the southern drought eases across enough of the south for the newsies to mention it from time to time, for us and our kind here in the dead damn flat center of NC, the D4 drought carries on and carries on and carries on. I won't complain about February. It rained frequently enough for me to remember that from time to time it does, in fact, rain here. It rained frequently enough for me to hold out a wee tiny bit of hope for March. And here's where we check the ten-day: one chance of rain—one—in the whole thing. But hope is not about checking the ten-day. Hope is dumber and blinder than that.

It is a day here in 27408 of genuinely impressive beauty, though, still windy and warm and the kind of day when you want to try the last of the coffee out here on the porch. The dog knows the word 'porch,' knows the difference between front and back porch, likes not much more than to sit out here and taste the wind and from time to time taste a bug. I think I like not much more than that, too. I just wish it had rained.

The dog's lying down in the sun. The daylilies are starting up. More daffodils in the yard than I remember planting. I need a project. I need to dig a hole, or go figure out where I put the circular saw. Get me an extension cord. Get me the filthy, destroyed jeans. Maybe what I'll do is take the Christmas lights down off the house. The weather's about right for a thing like that.