I’m not a subscriber to so-called retail therapy, but I’m not averse to paint brightening up my patch of the world, particularly when I’ve chosen a light blue named Innocence.
My amusement mystifies my kids, and, honestly, myself, too. A better word to describe our life these days would perhaps be Koan. But try putting that on a paint can and marketing it. Who wants a little more koan, please?
Instead, I buy a used bureau from a couple who has seen far better days, or so I hope, and offer it to my daughter. From our basement, I pull out the can of yellow Little Dipper paint I used for our living room. She paints it on our back porch. I lean against the railing, looking at the trash that’s blown over the railing — junk mail, a used mask, a cardboard box I’ve used for kindling.
A sparrow sings in the box elders.
I turn around and watch her paint. What? she asks, looking over her shoulder at me.
Nothing, I lie. I reach for the quilt I washed that morning, hung over the railing, and fold it carefully.
I save my love for the smell of coffee at The Mill, the roasted near-burn of it, especially the remnant that stays later in the fibers of my coat.
I wake from what I suppose is a writer’s nightmare. Inexplicably, someone has altered the pages of the book I’m writing to emoijis — gibberish where I’ve labored so long to string together sense and beauty.
Mid-November, and the nights are long. We play Battleship, Boggle, Trouble. The library books pile up around the couch.
This time of year, I’m reminded of Vermont’s great extremes. By five, dark has set in fully. In summer, we’d be thinking of heading for an after-work swim. Walking yesterday, I thought of the wild forget-me-nots sprinkled along that roadside in summer. White, pale blue, gray, black: winter’s palette. Inside, we bake phyllo with salty cheese and roasted red peppers — not so much habit or tradition, but simply the thing to do.
Lador Day Weekend, we’re all home Sunday — both girls and myself — and I followed in the family tradition instilled by my father: painting the house. Our previous house was cedar shingled, with paint only on the window trim. That house had many windows, so, most falls, I painted some of the trim or old storm windows, always the same exterior deep blue teal.
My daughter, when she was three, called this Mama velvet-tealing, a neat way of turning a noun into a verb.
While gray is a traditional New England choice for steps, I had picked up a remainder can of exterior floor paint for a mural on the barn door. When I opened it up, the paint sparkled the glossy richness of spring dandelions.
No, the girls said.
Yes, I said.
Later, when the new neighbors walked over for cake, they asked how long the steps had been so brilliant. Since today, said my older daughter.
Once again, I find myself wildly painting. Next, a deep yammish orange for the upstairs floors. Color, the consolation of fall.