Hammock Days

We in the Pacific Northwest have been enjoying an early summer. It’s late May, and children are wearing shorts, pools are being uncovered, and June blooms are erupting in gardens. My nose tells me that mine is not the only husband who has begun grilling dinner nightly. This is fairly noteworthy because in the Seattle area it is understood that you cannot count on sunshine and warmth until Independence Day at the earliest.But the sun is out, the temperature is pleasant, so why wait to hang the hammock?

See the boy in the hammock?

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See the book the boy is reading?

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Oh, did I forget to mention that Cyborgia was published today?

That’s right: The third book in the Inventor-in-Training series is now available for your reading and lounging pleasure in paperback format. So stoke that barbecue, dip your toes in the pool, hang out in the hammock, and find out what Angus and Ivy have gotten up to lately.

That’s what I intend to do, as soon as that boy gets out of my seat.

The Loneliness of the Spider

spiderSpring has finally arrived, and I’ve had the windows open to welcome the air into my winter-stuffy home. So I wasn’t surprised to see the tiny spider scrambling across my bathroom floor this morning. I reached out to squish it and was struck with sympathy. Yes, you read that right.

Sympathy.

One spider. A truly small one. Certainly not long hatched from its egg. All alone.

Ants are always leaving the safety of their anthills to search their environs for food. They help each other drag large morsels back to their hills. They work together to care for their young. They join together to battle other ant colonies and predators who would decimate their communal home. I wonder if they mourn the ants that don’t return from a day of foraging. The ants who were stepped on, eaten by a larger bug, drowned in a sprinkler’s spray.

Bees live in colonies, too. Do the homebodies miss the drones that are caught in spider webs or lost forever inside windows? Scientists tell us that swatted hornets send out help-me pheromones to their friends and family. Bluebottle flies buzz around together. Gnats and mosquitoes annoy us in swarms. Everyone knows that if you find one cockroach, there are at least a hundred more hiding close by.

But what about the lonely spider? She lives entirely alone. She is feared and loathed in equal measure. She is the monster of the bug world: hunting, luring, and gobbling those that cross her path. She doesn’t know her family, she has no BFF, and she lives to kill and kills to live. After her lifetime of murder, she eats her mate, lays her hundreds of eggs, and dies. Her babies hatch and begin their lonely lives. And everyone hates them. Is there any creature besides the bird that is happy to see a spider? And let’s face it, the bird would be just as happy to see a beetle or an earthworm.

Even gardeners like me who are glad to see the spider eating pests in the vegetable garden are disgusted by them when they appear inside the house.

I considered the lonely little spider racing frantically across my bathroom floor. She was searching desperately for a dark corner in which to hide. Nobody loved her. Her mother and father were already dead. She would live alone. My heart was moved with pity.

And then I squished her.

The Smell of Spring in the PNW

The calendar says spring began a week ago. I consider that a mere suggestion. After all, the calendar says that summer solstice is June 21, and anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows that summer doesn’t officially start until July 4. “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” and “April showers bring May flowers” are aphorisms for East Coast life. Out here, March comes in like a torrential downpour and goes out like a less torrential downpour. And April? That month lasts through June. But at least we don’t have to wait until May for our flowers.One of the many glories of living in this drizzly part of the world is the natural beauty everywhere you look. If you enjoy sinking your hands into the earth and conjuring up flowers, fruits, and vegetables the way I do, the appearance of daffodils, primrose, and hyacinth reminds you that you need to put in that seed order and start tilling soil ASAP.

But as vibrant and deep as all the colors are in spring, what sets spring apart from every other season in my opinion is the smell. I wish I could post the odors of my backyard for you. The sarcococca doesn’t look like much, but its fresh vanilla scent in January gently coaxes, “Don’t worry. Winter is almost over. Spring will be glorious.”

The daphne odora is slightly more daring with its demure pink flowers: “Tee hee hee, don’t look at me, but isn’t my fragrance lovely?” And the purple hyacinth trills its RRRs: “Arrrent’t I rrravishing darrrrlink?”

The calendar says spring began a week ago. I didn’t believe it until my garden told me so.