Fellow citizens of summer,
Can you feel it? Overnight, the wind has suddenly taken on a cool tinge; rustling both leaves and bare legs with a warning breath. Summer was short and sweet. I am wistful, but the seasons march on.
Winnipeg had a rough winter last year, which tidal waved into a turbulent spring. Six Colorado lows rolled through week after increasingly fretful week, and resulted in the wettest spring that the province has seen in over a century.
When the water finally receded, the roads in my riverside neighbourhood were unrecognizable - covered with gaping pits like lingering scars in a war zone. A local saint placed a derelict shopping cart within a massive pothole; as much a memorial for the tires and front ends lost as a warning for the brave cars navigating the wreckage. Our post-apocalyptic emergence was tentative.
Construction crews descended on us and strung up caution tape everywhere, like NGO workers stepping into a rescue situation. Rolling in with heavy machinery, the ground shook as they hammered the paved ruins into a state closer to a fresh start.
But with the rubble laid flat, progress is now stalled. The three necessary paved arteries that serve the community are reduced to one single lane; a yield sign on a blind corner being the only assistance provided for the thousands of residents who need to get through the gauntlet each day.
Enter John, the elderly man who lives next door.
John is our local watchdog. Every day, he sports a different patterned shirt to match his colourful personality; buttoned up only part of the way, so as to allow his chest hair to taste the sweetness of the summer breeze. With style and steadiness, he walks the block; always ready with a hello, and sometimes with a prepared diatribe about the weather or recent going-ons in the neighbourhood.
Today, he patrols the edge of these wayward construction sites in a top covered in tiny pineapples. Loitering workers pointedly avoid his eye contact on the other side of their erected line, but John only sees that as an admission of guilt. From across the intersection, I watch his arms and voice rise up in incredulity as I walk past. Unhesitating he tells the languid crews what’s what, making a show that seems to be informed from a past career in knowing better.
He vocalizes the frustration that the rest of the neighbourhood is feeling. We lock eyes with each other; he throws up his hands, I throw up mine in solidarity, and we continue on.
This is community.
This is construction season.
But even in this the season is shifting. Whether it was John or the cool breeze that prompted them, the construction crews are moving hurriedly again. Maybe, just maybe, they will manage to fill their holes before the next blanket of snow falls from the sky.
The cycle of the seasons shapes us; their fleeting nature bringing an imminence to each moment. We learn to trust them in both their regularity and temperamental character; moving forward in windows of opportunity and yielding to visceral reminders of something bigger than us. Across the passage of time the only constant is change, which is a humbling realization that is also fertile with opportunity. Each moment is uniquely precious and not to be squandered.
I'm in the midst of planning a westward jaunt into the alpenglow of the shoulder season. It has been a summer of cloud gazing and tending gardens here in the city, but harvest is soon and the time to move on soon thereafter.
The pandemic derailed my personal creative work and I'm more than ready for the next season of it (whatever that might mean). What I do know, is that there are a few seeds I intend to water in the next few months - and they begin with adventures to both familiar and novel areas of the Rocky Mountains.
I'll cover some of the high-level plans in a dispatch in a few weeks - but right now I'm poring over satellite imagery, deliberating access points, and sketching out timelines to try and get a feel for what's possible. Two of the treks I have in mind literally begin at where the map ends and involve terrain that was glacially covered just a few years ago. In this era of Google Street View and unfettered geotagging, it's exciting to sometimes go into things with a question mark. Who knows what surprises might lie in these fresh territories?
Keep on dreaming,