This morning I awoke to familiar fog—reminder that this summer is legend in the making. Already the stories I hear and the stories I tell are creating that legend. This is the summer of the best weather in memory, the summer of the best July watermelons ever, the summer of no jellyfish in the bay, the summer when the wind was always welcome for it's cooling, the summer that my friends discovered a new swimming pond on Mt Vision.
But inside each story we tell of summer, each peach, each cherry lies the pit of knowledge of its passing. Summer is prone to legendizing, like a movie star. That sweet youth we've all touched, it passes too quickly—fades away to fall and the knowledge of winter. Summer will come again, and soon, marking the passage of our own time, while reminding us of the best of times in summers that came before, reminding us of the shortness of time in the few summers that remain.Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 8:19 AM link | comments 
Long, slow, hot summer days have turned into early-mornings-til-late-nights of work and nothing but work. I fall into bed exhausted, wake up surprised at how many hours I've slept, turn on the computer, and go at it again. I still swim every day and that is my respite, my rest, my return to humanity.
I also appreciate the foods of august. The heirloom tomatoes are IN. Toby's Feed Barn is my favorite place lately to buy produce. Tables and bins filled with eggplants, apple varieties, figs, strawberries, melons, and beans. People are happy and friendly, shopping amongst the goods and goodies. The tomatoes! The tomatoes are finally here. I love them. I continue to eat them year-round, but only the little organic cherry tomatoes that we get from Mexico, and which by mid-summer are often over $4 for a small tub. But the only time of year for big tomatoes is now, when they are lucsious, fresh and flavorful. The heirlooms come in beautiful colors and shapes: orange and yellow and green with red stripes, some as big as my hand. Those are the best, for one slice covers any chunk of bread. With that, add any cheese, or a dash of oil and vinegar, and it's the best summer meal.
So you may not hear much from me for the next week or more while I catch up with my workload. But know that I'm doing my best to stay in touch with the world outside my window. Sometime in the middle of the day, I'll still dive into the warming waters of Tomales bay, and I'll bite into some local tomato, or a cherry.
I'll try to slow this summer down with those beauties.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 8:53 AM link | comments 
Out of Step with Natural Law
After Fred mentioned The Last American Man in the comments here last week I picked up the book and have almost completely devoured it. It's a biography of Eustace Conway, a man who lives devoted to ideas of living self-subsistent in nature, and who believes it's his destiny to change America and americans. I'm coming to the end of the book, and he seems tired, so perhaps he no longer believes that he really can change America, or even one person. He says this about trying to show schoolchildren how to roll a hoop:I see this played out over and over. I watch these kids and I think, 'Can this unbelievable crisis be real?' What kind of childen are we raising in North America? Listen, I can guaran-damn-tee you that every child in Africa knows how to roll a fucking wheel. It's a question of understanding natural law. The world is ruled by a few basic physical laws—leverage, inertia, momentum, thermodynamics—and if you're out of touch with these fundamental principles, then you can't hammer a nail, carry a bucket, or roll a wheel. That means you're out of touch with the natural world. Being out of touch with the natural world means you've lost your humanity and that you live in an environment that you completely do not understand. Can you even begin to imagine my horror at this? Can you begin to comprehend what's been forgotten in just a few generations? It took mankind one million years to learn how to roll a wheel, but it only took us fifty years to forget."
Well, I think Eustace might be even more apalled if he'd read the Wall Street Journal on the 8th of August, where he'd have learned that more and more women, in order to squeeze into the latest toe-scrunching Manolo Blahnik or Kate Spade mega-high-heeled pumps, are having bones removed from their toes. Okay, it's a slightly different class of cultural perversity, but still. How far removed from natural law have you gotten when you mutate your body in order to walk in shoes that weren't meant for your feet? Your very feet, for god's sake. Are we rendering ourselves completely useless in the physical world, mirroring the impotence we experience as world events spin out of our control?
A friend of mine revealed the other night after my feet began to hurt, walking around the city in clumpy platform sandals, that she never goes to the city in shoes she can't run in. Now that's practical. A little paranoid, but definitely smart. That's a girl who isn't worried about her "toe cleavage", but instead understands her environment.
The new shoes are 20% pointier and the heels are 4.2" high. I admit, there's a real fun in wearing heels and dressing all the way "up" sometimes. Those high heels make the calf muscles taut and sexy. Is self-esteem the new 'natural law'? The pursuit of it can justify botox injections, unnatural footwear, or the pursuit of cleavage, breast or toe.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 8:22 AM link | comments 
Have you seen the Recall Blog? Now, you'd think this guy would have a sense of humor: maybe he's punch drunk from becoming a candidate, joining the circus he's trying to lampoon, or maybe he's just reading too much email.
When I wrote him asking for a current list of all candidates, I mentioned that my ex-stepmother was in the running. I mentioned that she might be a felon, but said I wasn't sure whether brandishing a shotgun at a Nevada sherrif would get you a felony, or just a misdemeanor. He blithely emailed back asking if my "friend" would like to post her candidacy in his Candidates' Corner.
Do you ever feel like nobody's listening?
I miss writing here when I get tied up with work or houseguests and don't post. My friend K. from Portland visited me on the eve of launching a 5-day kayak trip with eleven 12-year-old girls and several other instructors. They left from Heart's Desire and were attempting to make the mouth--about 10 miles, I believe. That doesn't seem far, but against the winds we usually have, and half the time against serious tides, with young, first-time kayakers--they've never yet made the mouth in all the years of the program. I hope they do. So far this morning, there's no wind. I hope they've gotten off to an early start. I imagine that yesterday they didn't even attempt to paddle. It would be disastrous to launch the girls in the kinds of winds we had. I hope they stayed in sheltered water and practiced 'wet exits' and built up their skills, laughing and getting to know each other. After the kayak journey they head off to Sonoma for 2 days of rock climbing, and after that it's a four-day backpacking trip, and finally a return to the city for graduation. What a great program--a great beginning-of-teenagerness ritual.
I wonder if my teenage years had begun with an introduction to outdoor life and the thrill of meeting physical challenges whether they would have gone better. I might have made better choices, or developed interests that could have kept me from pursuing trouble, thrills of another kind. K. has lots of stories about kids--some who make it out of serious trouble, and some who don't. Some that are headed there, but still can't be helped. Nobody knows why. I would like to do some direct work with kids. I'd like to walk away from this desk for five days and paddle and camp and lead girls up the bay, negotiating the currents and the winds, the cliques and the fears and the temptations, land them safely on a sheltered beach and teach them how to find warmth and make shelter, and find beauty, and maybe a little joy.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 8:22 AM link | comments 
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