Posted by Deborah on April 4, 2012

Winter has held its ground.  Just yesterday there were still patches of snow lacing the mountain tops around the river valley.  It seems late in the year for that sort of alpine scenery but it is spring according to the calendar. When we meet people around town they say, “Well, you’ve made it through your first winter…”   It is a compliment and a kindred embrace in this coastal environment of storms and heavy rain that often drives people back to the valley after a time.  One finds that the day truly comes from the sky.  Sometimes the sky radiates sunshine, sometimes it makes clouds, often it pours rain and more regularly than one might imagine the wind hurtles at great velocity from the southwestern horizon transparent in the sky’s color.  So we watch the sky.

The higher sun has moved above the Sitka forest to the south of our property and brought heat and light to that side of our house.  In the warmth lady bugs have infested our rafters and gathered around all our south facing windows, inside.  At first we felt like the recipients of abundant good luck.  At night they would sometimes drop from the sloped ceiling of our bedroom and crawl about on our pillows or walk across our cheeks. There was something intimate about their familiarity.

Our welcoming attitude soon turned to patient tolerance and then to annoyance.  They are tough little creatures.  Apparently they don’t eat anything but instead wander aimlessly back and forth, up and down, like automatons on a pane of glass. Randomly they bump into one another, back up and then go on in different directions.  They huddle in large red colonies, looking like a shiny beaded handbag stuck in the corner of window. Sometimes they fall into the kitchen sink and swim doggedly for as long as they need to, stroking through soap bubbles until rescued and then they continue uninterrupted, pacing on whatever dry surface they land. We began vacuuming them up and releasing them outside from the vacuum bag.  Their numbers grew and grew until we were vacuuming several times a day to keep up with their migration into the house.  Finally we stopped releasing them and sadly the ones we vacuumed were quietly entombed in the bag.  It is one of the phenomenon of a sunny day at the coast.  Where they are when it rains is still a question.   

Detail from “Days at Huckleberry Farm” for May exhibit at Waterstone Gallery

In the last week or so, we’ve brought out the tools of spring, which for us are shovels and posthole diggers.  One of the ironies of our move here has been the lack of a vegetable garden.  So much land, so little tilled soil.  We’re starting from scratch—an apt phrase as we scrape and tear away dense brambles and thick grasses to reach the soil.

Our big garden needs a serious deer fence and we’ve started that construction, but we have space for a small kitchen garden at the east side of the house in which we hope to actually plant something this spring.  It needs a retaining wall and also a fence to keep the deer from browsing our plantings, but it’s of a manageable size so when the sun comes out we leave our indoor work to dig between rain showers. 

It’s right outside the studio, a temptation I resist as the deadline for my show draws near and I have unfinished paintings calling for my attention.