Last Tuesday in June

Daria has been learning to ride her bike by riding around the block, up to the park, and back.

Daria biking on sidewalk near our house.

She’s gone from limping along, pushing with one foot and hobbling, stopping every few minutes to expound on the cracked pavement or the state of the shade to gliding like a pro in a matter of days. Her development is astounding. Every few days is a new miracle.

This afternoon, while eating lunch and perusing the next-to-latest Rolling Stone, I read an article about the Beach Boys getting back together and suddenly had a flashback to riding my bike as a little girl with my nephew in the basement of our house on Wooded Hills Road, where my sister and her family still live. The summers were scorchy-humid-blistering, but the basement garage was sweet cool and spidery. We rode our bikes in figure 8s while listening to “Barbara Ann” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Surfin’ Safari” and “Little Deuce Coupe.” A bit of California in sultry, land-locked, rock-infested and sun-bleached Northwest Arkansas.

Daria’s riding path is strikingly different from our basement. She rides on sidewalks past Norman Rockwellesque yards to a neighborhood park where she can look up and see the Blue Mountains. June is preternaturally cool, highs only kissing the low 80s.

The view from the edge of our neighborhood park.

Before we moved to Oregon, I lived in the midwest, or the “upper-South” most all my life–Minnesota, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri. Hot and humid summers with dazzling but short spring and fall surrounding icy, unholy winters. Moving to the Blue Mountains shocked our systems. Dry. High. Surrounded by mountains not of the Ozark variety, which Wikipedia informs me are actually dissected plateau. But real mountains. We live at 2800 feet above sea-level, roughly and are in a valley surrounded by close mountains with peaks of 4800-8000 ft.

Our valley lacks fireflies and thunderstorms (sorry, natives…we have had one in the three years I have lived there…the rest are slightly noisy showers). But it has rich, dark soil (again, sorry natives, but the soil is not “full of clay”…for that, I would take you to Southwest Missouri/Northwest Arkansas where potters could literally make coffee mugs straight from the soil on my in-law’s land).

Moving across country from your home territory (securely in Zone 6 and 7, CST) into a completely foreign soil (in chilly Zone 5, PST) throws off your internal clock. My body still seems to function in Central Standard. By mid-May, I was itching to put a tomato plant in the ground, feeling like something was wrong with them still squatting in my windowsill (“Brave move!” said a Zone 5 lifer when he saw my mid-May garden, rife with spindly Oregon Spring and Cherry Tomato Plants).

When I was four, my family transplanted from Minnesota to Arizona to live near my aunt. In Arizona, I developed a strange allergy to the climate, and my family re-transplanted when I was six to Arkansas. I remember that my parents were really headed to Kentucky horse country, but Arkansas got in the way. A good chunk of my family still lives in the dissected Ozark Plateau, having planted roots for the last 31 years.

I wonder, when I look out over mountain peaks ringed with June snow if Daria’s roots will break this soil. I don’t know.

But for now, she is enjoying the climate.

3 thoughts on “Last Tuesday in June

  1. No fireflies! I’m so sorry for your loss of one of summer’s magical moments. I’ll no longer take them for granted. Heck, I even feel horrible now for letting a lost nomad of a firefly swim desperately around in my water glass before I finally felt the charitable urge to toss him outside so he could maybe dry off and live to light another night.

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