I grab my travel cup, scooping up Cadence’s backpack and load the strap over my shoulder. We are, as always, late for camp. “Let’s go NOW or you’ll miss role call!” I spout my daily mantra as she fusses with her hair. The stones in the driveway are still wet from the night’s rain and the damp earth smells of summer. The sky glooms with the remnants of last night’s storm but the day is predicted to be a nice one.
After depositing Cadence beach side with her counselor and friends, I drive home contemplating the day. It seems I have had no summer at all with far too much work and no play that I can recall. The sun peeks through and driveways steam off the dampness; it looks like it will be beautiful as predicted. I am practically giddy with the unscheduled day before me. All work wrapped up and no new assignments, I decide that I will clean the kitchen, wash some clothes, prime the new wood trim that Brad has finally put up and then slip away alone to the beach; just me, a towel and a book.
Last summer, work was scarce and I made great use of our beach, going daily in the afternoons with Cadence and lingering well into the dinner hour. I have now been blessed with full time work; much needed indeed, but cannot seem to squeeze in even a little bit of summer, finding myself working well into the dinner hour instead.
July brought with it one calamity after another: a leaking furnace, the death of my car, a blown out electrical circuit in an important part of the house and August has followed suit. We began last week with the septic tank alarm waking us at 4:00 am and went without showers or toilets until the repair man arrived at 7:00 pm. He set us up temporarily, but would need to bring an electrician back in a few days.
“You really do have a black cloud over you.” A friend told me. Yesterday, the men returned with the electrician and spent most of the day working on restoring and improving the system. There is nothing more depressing than throwing money into a hole in the ground; wasting money on crap…literally, but I wrote him the check for $1,300 and closed another crisis.
When it was time to pick up Cadence, I grabbed a book and a towel and decided to stretch the afternoon into something pleasant. I pulled my car beach side and felt instant relief as my feet sunk into the warm sand. I noticed a man sitting close to the parking lot in a beach chair with ear buds implanted. He opened one eye as I passed and drifted back into somewhere else. It astounded me that on such a beautiful day, the beach was empty, but for Mr. Ear Buds and the lifeguard. As I spread my towel to sit, I heard a low rumble and I turned slowly around to face the northwest. “Are you kidding me?” I said aloud to the dark sky moving in my direction. I held still long enough to determine the direction of the wind and indeed, my black cloud was following me; my attempt at summer foiled.
Today, on the other hand is perfect and I refuse to miss out. Kitchen cleaned, laundry done, trim primed, I take one last look at my email and do a little happy dance to see no new assignments. Steps from my escape, the phone rings and it is my boss. I assume she wants to go over the assignment I sent her yesterday and inwardly grown knowing that this could take up an hour. Instead, she says her internet is down and she likely won’t get to this until late afternoon or tomorrow. The beach seems meant to be.
I skip down the steps under perfect blue sky and scurry to run a couple of errands on my route to the beach. I pull my car beach side at about 1:30, noticing Mr. Ear Buds in the same spot as yesterday. He once again opens one eye as my feet hit the sand and once again, the beach is near empty. I stroll toward the water; warm sand massaging my feet and seagulls calling greetings. Midway to the water, a low rumble behind me stops my feet and I turn to the northwest. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I say loud enough to elicit the attention of the few lone sun-worshipers.
My black cloud, larger than yesterday moves in my direction. I am determined this time to hold my ground. Maybe it will stay to the north and I nestle into the sand, opening my book. The rumbles get louder and the camp kids are hustled onto school buses to relocate to a town building. I am not deterred. My cloud continues to approach, but my side of the beach still sunny. Finally, white streaks slice through the black and I retreat to my car, walking by Mr. Ear Buds as he does the same. I am tempted to apologize for bringing my cloud as I settle into my book inside the car. I’ll simply wait until it passes. In short order I am sitting under a torrential downpour and there is no hopeful light spot in the sky.
Back at home, I whip out the paintbrush and tackle some trim paint. The storm passes and blue sky abounds. I log onto local radar to find that more is coming from the northwest; warnings of hail and wind and I head into town to pick up my daughter. Cadence packs her things and stands in line at the ice-cream truck. My friend talks of heading down to the beach and I feel like Eeyore explaining in a defeated voice, “More’s on the way… won’t be long… this one with hail…” Cadence, always full of sunshine and adventure says “So what? It’s not here now! Let’s go to the beach!”
Re-energized, I pull up beach side and see Mr. Ear Buds just settling into his chair. He has both eyes open this time and looks at me like I am the Grim Reaper. I shrug and smile as I step onto the sand with a thunder rumble in the distant northwest. I push a mental button like the one on the retractable dog leash and let the tether to my cloud out at far as it will reach. Our friends join us and we squeeze every last drop out of the sunny spot on the beach, lingering just to the edge of safety before making our retreat.
Tomorrow is supposed to be one of the top ten perfect days. Maybe my cloud will sleep in late.