The seasons in a new place

I’ve started to really look forward to Saturdays. Our son has the day off from his regular job and his wife works a long day on Saturday at her busy counseling practice. It is a special day for our grandchildren, who look forward to having more time with their father on the weekends. We have developed a pattern of going to our son’s house to work on a project or two. Our son and daughter-in-law are constantly at work on their home place, fixing up the house and property. In recent weeks, we have been putting baseboard in the house. For some reason, the previous owner didn’t get finished with home repair tasks. They put new tile in the kitchen and bathrooms, but didn’t put in the baseboard. They installed a sliding patio door in the dining area, but didn’t build a deck outside of the slider. They put in a new front porch, but didn’t get the front steps finished. So we’ve been working on those projects. The baseboard project has been fun for me because we have been matching the 100-year-old trim in other parts of the house. We’ve been able to purchase beautiful clear 1 x 4 stock which is slightly smaller than the original stock in the house. Then I run it through the table mounted router three trips to cut grooves in the boards to match the design of the window trim in the original house. Our son has gotten good at matching the stain and finish. Then, for the past few Saturdays, we have been cutting the miters and fitting the boards into place. There are several bay windows, so there are some interesting angles to be cut to fit all of the boards. We’ve finished almost all of the first floor of the house, with a little trim in a bathroom and the upstairs bedrooms yet to go. We don’t put in a full day’s work. We take time for a nice lunch together. We play with the children a bit. We talk a lot and we start late and finish early. But we are making progress.

Yesterday our son commented that he sees a cycle to the home improvement chores. We’ve been working on chores inside the house for several weeks. Next week we are going to take a break from chores to celebrate two family birthdays and to enjoy the arrival of our daughter and grandson as they visit in their trip from Japan to their new home in South Carolina. The following weekend is President’s Day Weekend, which in this country is the start of the gardening season. It is hard for us to believe because we are used to life in South Dakota, but spring comes early here. It is below zero in Rapid City this morning. We have daffodils and tulips appearing a couple of inches above the ground. It is time to trim the rose bushes. The buds are starting to open on some of the shrubs in the yard. When we return to work at our son’s farm, the baseboard project will be put on hold for a while. We’v got fence to build, a new enclosure for chickens that will be coming soon, and a deck and front steps that need to be made.

I moved to the Pacific Northwest with my biases developed through years of living in the midwest. I thought of Western Washington much the same way that a lot of other people do: It sure rains a lot there! Well it does rain more here than other places where we have lived. But it doesn’t rain every day, even in the rainy season. In October and November it rains a lot more here than it does in the other places we have lived, but it doesn’t rain every day. We walk every day and we’ve probably only walked in the rain four or five times since we moved. Most days there are breaks in the rain and there are lots of days when it is sunny in between the rainy days.

The locals haven’t developed gills. They don’t have moss behind their ears. The rain produces lovely tall trees and wonderful green undergrowth but there are plenty of days to enjoy outdoor activities. And spring comes very, very early out here. I’ll be mowing my lawn this week.

We have learned a few things. Umbrellas are rarely worth the hassle. You don’t need to have one in every vehicle and carry one every time you leave the house. A good rain coat is a nice item to have and rain pants are a blessing on some of the wettest days. But most of the time you learn to just go on about your life. A little moisture doesn’t hurt at all. If your clothes are wet from being outside in the rain, you change them and hang the wet ones to dry. It isn’t a big deal.

We had all kinds of special clothing for dealing with the cold weather in the other places we have lived. I had a big expensive snow blower and insulated coveralls and a parka for the snowiest of days. We bundled up and got on with our lives. A similar thing happens here. The weather for which we are preparing is different and we need a bit of different clothing, but it is easy to learn to adapt. The thing I worried about, getting depressed from constantly gray, cloudy skies, doesn’t seem to be a problem. We get plenty of sunshine and though it is more cloudy than other places we have lived, the clouds part and we see a bit of blue in the sky most days. And when the clouds lift, the views of the mountains are spectacular.

We will learn the rhythm of a new place. I suspect that I’ll stop journaling about the weather as much after a year or so. And I don’t think our son’s farm will run out of projects.

In the meantime, I’ve got a canoe in the shop ready for varnish and the area lakes are calling me to explore. Just like when I was a kid, if you are looking for me and it isn’t time for eating or sleeping, I’ll be outside.

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