Soggy Saturday

It’s soggy, and has been for a while, and will be for a while more. Not California soggy, which seems strange to say; they have their own gargantuan troubles, and I’ve been glued to footage and news. Unbelievable, devastating, and historic.

But here in the Pacific Northwest we have the slow slog kind of soggy, weeks and months of it, seemingly endless. I might be getting used to it, or maybe just resigned. I guess it’s what I signed up for when I moved.

We’ve just completed our FOURTH yard drainage project, trying to tame the waters that flow downhill – as they should, if the world is to continue making sense. Unfortunately it also means that water sweeps into our backyard from above, and washes aside bark chips, gravel, topsoil, rots out roots, and spreads weeds. It’s a non-sustainable way to have a garden, or even a yard that doesn’t look like a swampy river bottom. But I’m hoping this is the LAST drainage project.

I learned my first bit of PNW vocabulary when we first moved here; sump pumps and French drains and such, something that had never come up for me. This week I learned about perf pipe vs. 3 inch pipe, and bubblers and cleanouts. The crew we hired dug a huge hole in the yard where the water pours in, about 4 by 6 feet around and 4 feet deep. Huge. The hard-working men lined it with fabric and filled it with pipes, river rocks and boulders, creating a sweet invitation to the kids to hop around. And a good sized catch basin.

Now our invasive waterfall glides down alongside the house and out to our steep street, joining the flow from above, and into the ditch at the bottom of the street. I wonder, as the water pours into our yard, how we could capture it for later use, but there is just too damn much of it.

The rain isn’t constant; we have all kinds. Showers, drizzles, sprinkles, light rain, heavy rain, downpours, and atmospheric rivers, all on rotation, with varying grey skies and occasional clearings. During the breaks everyone and their dog is out for a walk before the next round. I’m trying too.

I built a good swim routine last year, getting out of the house at 7am three times a week. “You’re a stud!” my haircutter told me. I repeat this to myself as needed. But my walking habit fell apart last fall as I huddled inside, dry and warm. This year I have vowed to do better, and I keep reminding myself that if I don’t walk in the rain, then I don’t walk! This is not sustainable. I’m getting older faster this way. If I can swim at 7, I can walk at 7. Or soon thereafter. It’s a non-resolution; more like tightening up habits already locked in. I have to give up my dislike of being damp. It’s not a permanent condition, I remind myself. I’m a stud!

We took Rosa to check out the creek at Marshall Park, and it was rolling pretty good. Newly downed trees had fallen over and into the water, creating new dams. A handful of kids did their best to add more sticks and stones to the new structures. Such satisfaction in carrying bulky heavy objects from one place to another, and heaving them down into churning waters. It’s serious work. I could have hired that crew to do my yardwork!

Back at home, cozy and dry, Rosa wanted to play Settlers of Catan and Ezra wanted to play chess, so Alan, ever the diplomat, played both at once. He still managed to win. Another soggy Saturday come and gone.

P.S. Soggy Sunday: The rain slowed a bit just now as I finished Barbara Kingsolver’s fantastic new 548 page book, Demon Copperhead. I needed to get outside – even though I swam this morning (did you catch the part above about my being a stud?). I felt slightly less studly as I layered up for the cold, and more understanding of my aging mother-in-law, who would collapse in her chair after the arduous work of getting showered and dressed. Hopefully these walks will stave off that stage.

The neighborhood is strewn with branches, and several downed trees from the last storm (big winds) or the one before that (ice storm). The enormous stump roots stretch awkwardly skyward, with piles of logs or wood chips around; the sad remains of these stately trees. Still, it pales compared to what keeps happening to the south, sinkholes eating cars, mudslides wiping out highways, and waves demolishing, well, everything in their path. Guess I’ll stay in the mild PNW.

17 thoughts on “Soggy Saturday

  1. But yesterday there was sun, she said very quietly. (At least 90 miles to the north.) Anyway, you are such a stud! I’m ashamed of my slovenliness. To be fair, I can’t walk in inclement weather much with no city street, it’s dangerous in the brittle woods. But I could drive somewhere, I suppose. Okay, I’m a slug. And when I finish the stack of books I’ve started that are in various stages of completion, Demon Copperhead is next. Kingsolver requires commitment. I just finished one I started months ago!

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    • Says the woman who forges streams, climbs mountains, withstands mosquito hordes, rises before the sun to do it all, and can walk triple my mileage. Sorry, you are a stud. I have to say, if I had to drive to walk, it would be less likely. Mud walks are tough. I guess your road is too windy dangerous to walk?
      As for Kingsolver, I bought it a month ago, and put off reading it until I could completely commit. It will take a little chunk of your soul, but is so very worthwhile. I did very little else this past week.
      Thanks for reading and being here Gretchen (and so quickly too!!).

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      • Haha! But only in fair weather. My woods are muddy, in sections, but also there are falling branches and trees. A large branch fell across the trail behind me a couple years ago, and now I stay out when it’s windy. The road is kind of scary, fast cars, curves, dogs running wild. I was quick today! Comes from sitting in the chair most of the day. 🙂

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  2. We have been lucky so far in the California storms: no flooding, no downed trees, no mud slides. When there is a break in the rain on a weekday we go grocery shopping (We take the bus). I’ve been cooking soups, muffins and puddings, reading, listening to music, playing my guitar again and napping — the dark days with rain falling make it easy to fall asleep while reading.

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  3. I can say with confidence I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. I love it here. Mountains, ocean and desert all within a few hours. I think the more immersed you become, the more it gets into your psyche. (And swimming in winter is the perfect initiation.) Stud, indeed! Maybe all the work you’ve put into drainage projects will just deepen your committment to place. I’m trying this year to really “be where I am”. A rock in the river. As for walking, if you really want to get out in any weather I’ll gladly loan you Yoda for a few weeks. Dogs are the best teachers sometimes. Always so happy to read your words. Carry on, friend. Just 64 days until spring 💕

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  4. That is all kinds of encouragement Bonnie “Rock” Rae! To be born here is to be deeply enmeshed; I know so many like you. I’m grateful for your setting an example. I also had mountains, ocean, and desert within a few hours when I was down south, so there’s more to it than that.
    Yes, digging a hole to house my soul perhaps…
    Maybe I should start a dog walking business.
    Thanks, as always…

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  5. I can feel the PNW dampness across the ocean as it never leaves one’s bones if a true native Oregonian! Your missive reminded me that my daily temps , here in Piastów, barely at zero or – 2 c are easier to tolerate. ..just layer up! In fact I prefer the Poland cold to the Portland rain tho I appreciate the green blanket everytime time my return flights are on final approach over PDX.
    I applaud your 7 AM swimming or walking routine as I relish my new pensioner’s schedule of sleeping past a 530AM alarm. .. a proscribed wakeup call for decades. Even for a morning person 530AM isn’t civil in the dark days of winter. Caving under a winter kodra (comforter) reigns. Walking arrives later when daylight skies trick me into thinking it’s warm beyond the mud room door!
    Thanks for sharing Nancy…keep your blog flowing!!
    MaryJo

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  6. And only a true PNWer would choose Poland as a second home! 🙂 Every time I return from Bend in the winter I get that hint of bone chilling damp, so surprising after having been in the snow for days. I ahve to admit, I push that 7 am forward if I see a break in rain later on, but by setting the intent it stays with me until I finally get out. Thanks for being here Mary Jo, enjoy your snow!

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  7. You sound pretty studly and inspiring to me, this weather has kept me inside for most of my winter vacation and long weekend, and my body is definitely feeling it. Although it did allow me to read Demon Copperhead. Definitely a good read.

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