Saturday, April 22, 2006

Home or Something Like It

We finally came to the end of our road on Wednesday, a day later than we'd planned, and a lot crankier than we'd hoped, but all in one piece. My keen interest in waiting an extra day in Wyoming paid off -- we met a bit of snow, but nothing like the 5 feet that was dumped on South Dakota and Wyoming. In fact, the worst that happened on that part of our drive was arriving in Seattle at rush hour and running into a loooong wait at the ferry to Whidbey. We were only about 90 miles from our new house, but we were exhausted after navigating the Yakima Valley, which incidentally, is gorgeous, and the steep passes of the Cascades, which incidentally, are gorgeous too -- from afar, but depressingly dark when you're driving through them -- even in the brightest sun. And so, faced with the line at the ferry, we decided to find a hotel where we could spend one last night in a real bed (since our furniture wasn't arriving for a few days), and to finish our trip the next morning. That turned out to be more difficult than we expected -- even the otherwise trusty Best Western didn't allow dogs. They were, however, super nice about it and they called all the hotels in the area and found us one that would accept our mini-menagerie.

We drove the last few miles on Wednesday morning -- in the misty gloom that I've dreaded ever since I learned we were moving back to Washington. We picked up kitty, traumatised but healthy, at the kennel where we'd left her two weeks earlier, and finished the trip listening to the sounds of dog and cat anguish. DH had to go in to his new job, so he left us wrapped in a sleeping bag in our new, but empty, bedroom.

The gloom hung around for another day, but it lifted Friday, in time to remind me that there really are reasons to live. This place is funny like that. When the sun shines, it is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. But although it's still beautiful when it's gloomy, it can press down on you like a weight -- as evidenced by the popularity of the bridge over Deception Pass for committing suicide. Today's paper reports two -- one attempted and another successful. I consider this a cautionary tale. I do not think people always realise that the dark without can join the dark within and lead to desperation. Or, perhaps they know, but deny it for themselves -- thinking it affects only the weak -- until they too follow a bleak path.

I learnt about the power of place when I lived in Washington before, so I don't insist I'm immune to the soul sapping effects of the weather; I recognise that I need to counter it -- forcefully. That means bright colours, lots of light, and soaking up every possible drop of sun when it comes. That's one of the mysteries here; people often seem to go out of their way to increase the gloom, rather than to fight it. For example, it is rare to see houses painted in colours like yellow, white, or blue; most are grey, tan, or mossy green. These blend with the mountains and dark trees to form an unbroken pastiche of dimness. The insides of many houses are the same -- dark floors, tan walls, and brown trim -- colours that leach any remaining light from the grey skies. These preferences are usually described as "natural" -- implying that the deep blue of a June sky, or the pink of a blooming hibiscus isn't. I think that is hogwash. The golden yellow of buttercups is natural, and that's the colour I've already had my new kitchen painted. So is the vanilla and ivory that now graces my living room in place of the tan walls and brown trim that were there before. The bedroom is still brown carpet and trim with tan walls, but that will soon be replaced with the blues, pinks, and greens from the garden. And my new office, which currently sports chocolate walls and darker brown trim, will soon wear the colours of summer -- aqua sky and lime trees.

And who knows? The forest green front door may turn sky blue too someday. All natural!

1 comment:

Tess said...

Hmm, I'll have to take heed of what you're saying re colour. I know my m-i-l is worried how I'll handle the gloom. I'm aware of it and, like you, will counter it with as much light as possible, bright colours and doing lots of exercise. Our house plan calls for lots of windows and there will be natural wood through much of the house, with hardwood floors. And Sean likes bright colours in his rooms - I'm seeing yellow for my office :-)

Great reading about your journey! And glad to hear you waited things out in Cheyenne. Bad luck on the ferry traffic - something I'll have to get used to as well!!

Love the image of you and the mini-menagerie curled up in a sleeping bag on the bedroom floor. That was us last night as our house is now empty and we don't leave till Sunday (though we'll be with my mum for the final two nights).