Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Green Flash

The green flash is a phenomenon I'll talk more about later on, but it's also what I've decided we should call the switch from winter to summer here in Colorado. I said we only had two seasons, and true to its word, winter went out in a flash of light and temperatures leaped into the upper 80's in 24 hours. The world went hot and green instantly. Trees went from bare brown limbs to leafy bowers, and the foothills look like Ireland. It's all sadly temporary, as all too soon our arid conditions will quickly deplete any excess moisture and the bluffs will once again return to brown.

The smell of summer is definitely on the wind. Fresh cut grass, warm damp earth, grill smoke. While making a last minute trip to the grocery store, I caught the aroma of hot asphalt and French fries and suddenly I was back in the motor home on one of our trips when the girls were small. Florida, California, New Orleans. If you added the scent of hot rubber I'd find myself on a ride at a Disney theme park. If you add the sour beer smell plus the crumbling dusty scent of old brick and make the air so heavy with humidity you could lift it, you'd be in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Add the tang that only salt can give the air and I'm in San Diego or Sanibel Island.

After 3 weeks of non-stop planting, nurturing, worrying, fretting and overwatering, all the pots and urns got filled. My tomato plants got caught in the last snow, but have miraculously bounced back and yesterday I found the first blossoms. Now if Mother Earth will just see fit to bless me with thriving plants, the sunburn and sore muscles will have been worth it.

We added a set of temple bells to the wind chimes, along with one of bamboo, and when gales of wind coming off the foothills don't tie them all into knots, they actually sound quite soothing. My cornflowers and sea shell cosmos seeds have sprouted in the back flowerbed, along with a hand full of sweet peas, but not one hollyhock or California poppy. I have been trying to grow California poppies ever since we had a huge bed of them in Loveland, way back in 1976. That's a whole lot of seeds and no luck! I tried a new blend from Renee's Garden Seeds called Tropical Sunset, and had short lived success, but the inch long sprouts have all curled up and died.

Before the paint

I did manage to steal a few days for sewing before the full brunt of outside work hit. I had to wait through one final snowstorm for bright summer sunshine to photograph it. A free patten from Fig Tree & Company, called Cabanna Squares, this quilt is a burst of sunshine in a blue sky. I can't help but smile every time I look at it.

Cabana Squares Quilt

The fabrics are all Fig Tree Quilts as well, from the Dandelion Girl collection. Large squares of prints in yellow, peach, brown, green and blue. The border strips are a pale yellow leaf print, and the back is my favorite blue covered in yellow roses. I tie quilted the whole thing with yellow crochet thread and stitched in the ditch once around the edge so that folded triangles that edge the top and bottom would lay down. A stack of fabric and patterns suddenly appeared on my work table. Renaissance Fair season is here. How could I have thought I'd get off this year without sewing something new for someone?

Cabana Squares Quilt

I spent two days this past week priming the courtyard fence/pergola. I was in the shade for the better part of the first 3 hours and the breeze was cool. The dogs kept me company the entire time. I began to feel a lot like Tom Sawyer whitewashing. Unlike Tom, no amount of trickery worked on the pups. Not a single one lifted a paw to help. Instead they wailed as if they were being beaten when I was forced to move to the outside of the fence. Beth (from here on out to be known as Huck Finn) did the wobbly ladder bit on the outside tip top. We managed to hit the side of the house, splatter the hose until it looked like a dalmation and liberally dollop the rocks. Even the flowers got hit when the wind picked up my roller splatter. Apparently exterior paint is different than interior, because it refuses to wash off. The swipes on my arms, shoulders, chin and splattered toes will just have to wear off. Despite sunblock, my arms and face broke out in freckles so heavily I look like someone rolled me in brown sugar.

Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Day 2:

Beth and I headed outside again early Sunday morning and started the real painting. When we finished the second coat of green it was 2pm and Beth suggested we go for broke and do the plum as well. By 5 pm we were blind from sun glare, fried from the heat and so sticky from sunblock we couldn't let go of the rollers anymore. This is when things generally take a downward turn, when you start getting punchy. We'd been tracking the flight of a pair of hawks all afternoon. They were calling and circling overhead like vultures. Beth looks up and comments that the hawks are back and Quincy spontaneously bursts into song, about hawks making lazy circles in the sky from Oklahoma. Beth got the giggles and tipped over the entire can of plum paint. At least it happened on the river rock and not the pavers!

(Just for clarification, and only true pet lovers can understand or appreciate this, our dogs each have unique voices and personalities and often carry on whole conversations. They just happen to also be fond of musical theater. If this is all too weird, imagine what the neighbors must think when several childish voices begin singing Sweeney Todd)

Finished at last

And, even though my wrists and hands were stiff from painting I finished two pairs of socks.
Pebble Beach and The Green Flash Shell Socks.

Pebble Beach Socks, Opal Crazy # 1901, size 1 dpn

The green flash is another reminder to me of summer and days spent at the beach. In the summer of 2004 we spent a wonderful week on Sanibel Island in Florida. Every evening everyone watches the red ball of the sun over the vast blue ocean, as it gradually sinks lower and lower in the sky, waiting for the moment the flaming golden sphere hits the horizon line of the sea. It is at this moment, when atmospheric conditions are just right, that you might catch a glimpse of the elusive green flash.

One of the earliest published accounts of the green flash comes from W. Swan, who first observed the phenomenon in 1865, but did not submit his writings to Nature magazine for almost 20 years. Some speculate that Jules Verne's 1882 romance Le Rayon-Vert (translated "the green ray") sparked a widespread interest in the flash that prompted Swan, and perhaps other observers, to let the public in on their sightings. Verne's account includes a quote he attributes to Scottish legend: "He who has been fortunate enough to behold it is enabled to see closely into his own heart."

Despite technical explanations and detailed accounts from around the world, I still find that lovely Scottish legend the most intriguing and romantic of explanations. That legend has it that this incredible phenomenon can only be seen by true lovers fits so wonderfully well with my own opinion, that the green flash signals the Flying Dutchman is on the move between worlds. Will Turner is sailing home to his beloved Elizabeth Swann. So keep a weathered eye on that horizon...

The Green Flash Socks
Blue Moon Socks that Rock lightweight, color: Count Cluckula, needle size 2 dpn

It was when I reached the foot portion of this sock, and the striping began, that the colors began to remind me of the incredible sunsets over Sanibel Island in Florida. The most incredible colors of pink, blue, orange, even purple, streak across a sky that began blue and ended indigo. The "flashes" of green in the yarn is how these socks got their name.

These socks were knit using the Little Shell Socks pattern. The shell pattern of the upper sock is not very visible in my photo, but is very pretty. The stitch pattern creates little eyelets on each side of the shell. For additional notes, check out Mind of Winter's page for her take on the Little Shell Socks.


1 comment:

Nancy said...

Great painting work in the courtyard! Very brave and so perfect.

I like your quiet quilt. That color range always makes me feel ready for a summer nap.

Now it's my turn to apologize since I don't think I answered your last email. Let me know your details that week when you get closer to travel and we'll figure something out.