Sunday, June 16, 2013

creeping toward the summer solstice, mosquitoes and mehiläisvaha, elliott eats a mouse or two

Heat & Skeeters
Tuesday, June 11
A light breeze helps, but an all-day sun and temperatures climbing to the upper 70s have me, tonight, staying in. It’s too hot. The skeeters are thick. I’ve been wondering what it is about mosquitoes and screens. They latch on to the outside of a screen, so many of them, and sit there. Why is that? Why don’t they go latch onto a tree somewhere far away? We creep toward the summer solstice, that longest day of the year, as if the sun being up from 6 a.m. to near 10 p.m. still just isn’t long enough. We’ll go another few days, another few minutes, stretching that rubber band of daylight until … snap. I am pretty sure I have SADD (Seasonal Affective Disorder Disorder), the symptoms being a vague irritation brought on by the ever-present daylight of summer.

Another day dawns. But where is the night?

Wednesday, June 12
At the tori today in downtown Hancock (tori being the Finnish word for market) I set up to sell beeswax. The market is held every Wednesday and Saturday on Quincy Street on a deep and broad grassy lawn that fronts a massive, near 100-year-old, two-story brick building that was once a middle school. Now it’s part of Finlandia University. The city provides a couple of large tents for vendors to set up under, and the market is a mix of interesting stuff offered up by a few hardy regulars and a few curious newbies, like me. Then there is the occasional once-in-a-blue-mooner, like The Pancake Brothers (or so it said on their caps). These fellows set up a table with some Finnish CDs and carved wooden cups and boxes. They said they had just arrived from Finland a day or two before, in town for FinnFest 2013, which takes place here next week, and they’ll have a booth at the FinnFest tori, I suppose selling pancakes. All that to say I learned today the Finnish word for beeswax: mehiläisvaha. As I tried to pronounce it and was corrected, over and over, the word started jingling in my head like another word—no! A tune! A dance! In yet another language. Ever been to a Jewish wedding? Try it:

muh heelaz va ha …
muh heelaz va ha …
muh heelaz va ha …
muh heelaz va ha ha ha ha …

The Finnish Pancake guy who taught me mehiläisvaha began singing it better than I. The song (as I have now looked it up) is “Hava Nagila.” And all that to say that that is how I came to be singing the Finnish word for beeswax to the tune of a Jewish folk song in downtown Hancock today.

Jeepers. I hope I wasn’t dancing, too.

Enter Bob Dylan.

Midnight Mosquito Madness
Thursday, June 13
One mosquito strategically placed by an ear can seriously disrupt even the most peaceful slumber. But that was last night. Tonight, I’ve been settin’ out on the porch and the mosquitoes are, for now, elsewhere. Crickets, however, are plentiful. There is a relentless chirp in the air.

The temperature is perfect, and I feel a bit drowsy. Elliott and I sit, I in the chair and he beneath it, barely moving. Nothing much moves but a slight breeze that riffles the leaves and grasses, the grasses, in places, now knee high. The birds must be sticking close to their nests, hidden in the trees. Only hummie zips by once in a while.

Summer has crept in and taken hold. Out in the fields the blue-eyed grass is blooming (and thank you to whoever named it that), and the wild columbine planted along the front of the porch last May is all a-dangle with its flowers of red and yellow. The lawn is messy with stalks of fluffy dandelion heads and the occasional seed drifts by like a dressed up speck of dust. The rest of us are dressed down, nowhere to go, for now. We set.

The Milky Way
Friday, June 14
So cool last night I used all the blankets and slept well. At 3 a.m. Elliott meowed so I got up. He was right outside the door chomping on something. I closed the door. Through the large south windows I saw the Milky Way.

Elliott’s Late Night Snacks
Sunday, June 16
The farmers market started with a drizzle of rain but that moved off, the sky remained cloudy. It was a good day, but my new beeswax sign—mehiläisvaha painted on a board and hung from the tent’s cross braces—inspired only one person to comment. I learned something key about pronouncing Finnish words: accent the first syllable then just plow right on through.

After the market I worked at the gallery until six, so driving home I had to finish the plate of cinnamon rolls, and once at home I had to plop down on the sofa. After a bit, I heard Elliott meowing. He’d been in all day, rushing out when I came home. Now, maybe he was ready to come back in. I went out on the porch and spotted him around the corner, snacking on a mouse. He looked at me making a soft growly noise deep in his throat and went back to eating.

Much later I awoke to the howling, yipping, and barking of coyotes, as if in an amphitheater of wild dogs. I went down to see if Elliott would come in. He did.

Wild columbine.

Now the morning is layered in dew and all the smells of summer lay distinct and heavy. Damp earth, damp grass. Damp leaves and blossoms and fresh-cut wood. A sift of pine and cedar and a dash of spruce. The dew, the dust, the old barn wood, the cows down the road, the hay, the weeds, the mice, the mosquitoes. The air is infused. The sky is clear.