Friday, April 30, 2010

Almost May.

The first few crickets are back. I am reading Saul Bellow's letters in the New Yorker. The mint has taken over the side of the driveway. Hot days are coming. The hum of traffic out on Friendly and Market seems just understoried enough to be right. It is not cool out there, but it's worth having the windows open. Edward arrives in six weeks. The finches in the right-hand fern are about ready to fledge. Those in the left-hand fern are at least a week behind. Tomorrow: tomatoes from the farmers market. Tomorrow: whiskey up the street with the neighbors, in honor of the horses. Tomorrow: other and various tasks as yet unnamed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Late Frost.

It's cold out there. Like open-the-kitchen-door-while-you're-doing-the-dishes-and-change-the-temperature-of-the-house cold. Frost in the low-lying areas, in the country. We're meant to be safe up here on the citified hill. Plus, the peonies are still budded down—golf-ball-sized, almost, but still in buds. Not much else needs protecting: the daylilies are indestructible, and the pansies are still in. So: a late April semi-frost, a cold kitchen, a quiet night, see-your-breath chilly, that smell of fading winter one last time before we push back towards eighties this weekend, and probably all but for good. Certain things remain on the horizon: the TLK June winter, that rainy longsleeved day of coffee with maybe something in the bottom of it, but we're damn near done here on the Piedmont. This is late for this kind of cold. Not historically late, but late all the same.

Dog seems happy to have all her fur on a night like this. I've got the upstairs window cracked. Here's hoping we'll sleep cold. Bed down hard out there in the ferns, house finches and baby house finches. Tomorrow night we're back to normal. Tonight we're chilly in such a lovely way.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cooling Off.

Good goddamn: if KFW can keep to the interwebs, child in hand, then surely so can I, even though mine is only two in the bush. Still: tonight's weather merits mention. We tried so hard to rain all day, and we spit some, sprinkled some, but then there was nothing to show for it, sprinted morning lawnmowing notwithstanding. The lawn is mowed. Morning-mowed, even. But this is not what matters. What matters is a late-breaking cool snap, a cold front of the truly cold variety, the promise of forties overnight and the threat of thirties tomorrow, and one wonders what trash can might cover the peonies should tomorrow night's forecast get serious. The dog asked for a second walk tonight. The dog just finished off the end of the ordered rice. The dog is now doing her face on the living room rug. The dog looks upon today's other accomplishments—the semi-arranging of the nursery—with suspicion. We should all of us line our behaviors up with the dog.

The novel either rolls on, or it does not. It is as yet impossible to say. This is what pulls the forecast out of bed at, say, 4. To pad the house barefoot and scratch at the belly and worry over things unworriable (unworryable?). Which is why there should be dog, and deeply pregnant AMR, and 6:30 p.m. porching with those two in the waning greened sunlight and blooming front yard and all-around fiercing spring. One tries to remember, even as one knows one is failing, that dog and porch and friend with which to share the aforementioned are likely more important than novel or news of novel or progress of same or lack thereof or or or or or.

Here's what to like, and what to measure: the new cherry tree has all but doubled in size since we planted it six weeks ago. The tulips bloom and bloom. The yard has fully greened, even in the front, even in the weeds. The daylilies are coming in. Last year's non-blooming irises are getting ready to bloom. We may be having spring. A month and change into the season, I might be ready to say we're there.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Again.

We came through alright here on the Piedmont: I don't want to say it was any fun driving the '81 Chevy from RDU to 27401 last night in the rain, but we had no real wind and no real heavy rain until the forecast was safely bedded down with mom and child and deep into a sleep that held until 10 in the morning, a luxury that will seem exactly that once Edward arrives, the memory of which I assume will linger until well past the day she turns ten. Or thirty. Whenever one gets to sleep again—

We've cleared the serious storm here in 27401, though there's enough on the radar to send our hero out to the back porch to scurry the furniture we pulled from the laundry room out to the outbuilding. The story's boring; let's just say there's a shelf-like thing that wants out of potential rain.

I'm home. I have not been, of late. We did find an hour this evening to sit on the front porch and watch the finches try to decide whether they could nest in for the evening with us sitting there. That felt right. Felt familiar, felt good. These are the sorts of problems to chew through, I say. Come home, get home, worry through what happens then.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tornado Outbreak.

The forecast hereby and forthwith checks in live from the airport in 37214, where we are alternately under tornado warnings and tornado watches, and where next to me in the Waiting Lounge are two first-responders, waiting to get shipped to somewhere to coordinate disaster response. Right now it looks like Mississippi, where, Toto, you should absolutely be hunkered down if you are not yet. And elsewhere across the mid-south: go inside. Or know where you would go if you needed to. We had rainfall here in Nashville like I hadn't seen in a while -- had to be a two- or three-inch-per-hour rate. Flooded the interstate. Flooded the surface streets. The rented Hyundai came through all that fine. Out in the ether, the CNNers anchoring the weekend panic desk seem pretty serious. The Weather Channelers seem pretty serious. This is at the very least a maybe-stack-up-your-lawn-chairs-and-bring-them-inside kind of storm. It might be something bigger than that. The one first responder dude, though he and his friend are both in street clothes, is on the phone with someone he's calling sir and referring to as 'General.'

So. Maybe an airport beer. Then a flight through all this mess. And what's here is not even the mess. The mess is what's coming. The mess is what's back in Mississippi and Alabama. Basements, please, mid-southers. Interior rooms. Hang on. Good luck.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuning In.

So the novel damn near killed me. Or it is damn near killing me. And let's us not play the sad song of woe and publication—let's just say the book's existence reveals the smallest smallnesses in my life; sends me scurrying always off to check on things that should not get checked, or should not get checked so continuously; keeps me up late nights and hauls me out of bed early mornings hamster-wheeling through the wrong sets of lists and notes. Excellent preparation for our impending other doom, Edward James Olmos, she of the mid-June due date. Good to get a head start on feeling like this. I guess this'll clear up in about 22 years.

In the meantime, friends and fans of Carolina springtime, it quit raining and the azaleas broke out into bloom. We're on the tail end of the tulips, and the rhododendrons are just about wanting to come in back home in 27401—as well as out here in 27244, from which the forecast comes to you live, beneath the Chinese Fir, an intentional effort, out in front of what will be showers if they hold together long enough, to drag my ass out of my office and out of the inside of my head and out here into the weather. To anyone who's seen the inside of one of my classrooms this month or last: I apologize. To anyone who's seen the inside of my marriage: I apologize twice over. There's pollen thick enough on our front porch to leave footprints. There are house finches nesting in the ferns. Out here at the puppet show the trains go back and forth. I knew I'd maybe hit the wall an hour ago when I had to look up what the weather was supposed to be this evening. Because here is the one thing I'm generally meant to know, and I did not know. Now, though, outside, I know, and it is good: Cool. Half a breeze. Squirrels yelling at each other in the trees. HVAC shrieking away here on the side of one of the dorms. Clouds rolling in from the west, which is where they ought to roll in from. Fresh-cut grass. Kids walking by using the "me and" construction.

Tomorrow's weather: I will endeavor to let you know as soon as I possibly can after it happens.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It Goes.

Things to know: it's markedly cooler. There's wind. The dog has been out, has gone to bed. We tried to rain. We did. And it'll rain again someday: this is not yet the siren song of drought, is no concern other than the half-bloom on the dying dogwood out front that was dying all last year even as it rained and rained. And we picked up an inch easy (an easy inch?) on Thursday night, which is for true and certain a bankable fact, even though ANYLF has been raingaugeless since January. It just rained that hard. That's how it was and is.

Things to know: ANYLF is on book tour. This means not enough forecast and vastly too much googling. What to know: the mint is in, which makes for a nice nightcap and less of the bad interneting and more of the good. The breeze kicks through the trees out there, damn near fully leafed out thanks to that week and change of eighties and nineties. It banged the tulips up out of the ground and into bloom, at least. Pollened the porches.

Music for spring: Mumford and Sons. Dear god buy the album. Buy it now.

Things to know: how to stay sane: watch the weather. Remember that's how it goes, how it works.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Late Night.

We've had spring set in for kind of semi-certain here in 27401, more than cool enough in the evenings, finally, to prop a box fan in the window and try to pull what's out there in here. We've come through our stretch of summer. There's pollen thick enough on the porch to leave footprints in it. The yard's giving way to fescue and dandelions. The tulips came up. There's dianthus trying to make a wee comeback. Daylilies in for the second year, and twice as thick. Peonies. Bud sets on the hydrangeas. It's all coming in. All of it. And the mint in the side yard is everywhere except for where it's meant to be, everywhere except where it was planted last year. No matter. Mint is mint, and it's in. I'll thin daily for whiskey, work harder than that if and when it takes over.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday like Viewmaster reels of what April can be. This on the heels of baby-bringing tornadic thunderstorms. Welcome, EMWW. Sleep tight over there. Be good to your parents. Already they're so good to you.

The forecast these days, for its part, is a ball of nerves. The interns sleep like shit. The computer models are all over the map. The simple plan, the same plan as always, the only one that ever works: to bed, and right now, so that coffee and a dogwalk might be that much closer. Maybe head for the shed after that. Too much in this novel. Not enough in the next one. Not enough anywhere else, really. I haven't sauteed a vegetable in several days. I sat on the porch this evening and wept. I have lost my mind, or I'm losing it. Here is how it goes: I could use another storm. For now I'll take this cool air dragging through the open dining room windows, will head upstairs to see how AMR is doing with Edward James Olmos, see if she's kicking or if she's sleeping through the night.

The man wants to sleep and wants to hit his head again and again against a wall, Stephen Dobyns says. Why is it all so difficult?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Big Plans.

I don't know how you don't love a storm, particularly one this long in the making: sevenish days of ninetyish degrees and all the pollen in the world and then a long gray afternoon and now this heavy, hard rain, fat windblown drops up against the west-facing panes, water in through the open upstairs closet window and just enough danger to merit the crawl across the bottom of the TV screen. Now there's thunder rumbling out west. I don't care if the shed leaks. I don't care if we get a tulip or two taken out. I don't care if the lawnmower's not covered over. We needed this. It had not rained. We had a huge wet winter and then we had August for a week. This'll knock us about back into place.

In a year, I'll take Edward out to the porch and try explain to her about how every April the mint comes in, how every April the storms come through. I will make every effort to do what my dad did for me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Brief Hiatus.

So the forecast has been away. And inconsistent. I know this. But: it seems like while nobody was paying attention, somebody may have broken the weather.