Right now I occupy that luminous and liminal space that defines the days between late spring and early summer, between finals’ week and vacation, between work and a kind of joyful slothfulness, and maybe even between ordinary domestic life and the wild.
My backyard in Southern California, sloping downward from the house toward the now parched riverbed, is also liminal. Inside we are at least mildly civilized–we eat meals, do the laundry, occasionally vacuum. Outside it’s the wilderness. Yesterday a large road runner perched just outside one of the sliding doors, unafraid and much more lordly that I might have thought. (He was nothing like the road runner of the cartoons.) Just after dawn this morning I awakened to a kind of rustling. I looked outside and saw (I was very sleepy) what I thought might be bobcat kittens (there is a bobcat who also lives in the yard). Then I looked closer. “I think they’re baby coyotes,” I said doubtfully. And then, a few yards away, I saw the mother. She nosed her babies into a hollow under a shed near the property line and then loped away. I have never seen coyote pups before. Unlike puppies, who look quite different from the dogs they will eventually grow to be–bigger heads and feet and bellies, wrinkled faced, funny floppy ears, young coyotes evidently just look like small and slightly plumper versions of their eventual adult selves.
My backyard is inhabited by tricksters.
They are neither here nor there.
And that’s sort of like me–right? I’ve sort of not been here. Although I have been thinking about being here. I’ve been questioning again the idea of localism and what it might mean now with California’s drought. Is it better to buy products made with someone else’s water?
Inconsistency has a bad rap these days. If the online comments recorded on hundreds of blogs are any indication, a lot of people are hating on the frivolously unfocused. Vegans complain that some vegans aren’t consistent enough to be real vegans. Members of the LGBT community contend that some people aren’t quite LGBT enough. Are we liberal enough, frugal enough, sensitive enough?
Inconsistent as I am I like the idea a number of towns are implementing to deal with water shortages and the drought. Rather than making rules about what days and times one can water, and the consistent kinds of showers people ought to be taking, some towns are simply allocating an amount of water to each household. You can pour it all on your plants, or even on your car and just be dirty if you like. You can drink it all one month and the next month use it on a game of slip and slide (although actually I don’t think you can buy those games anymore because of their inherent risk).
I’m beginning the countdown toward an inconsistent 91 days of local summer.
I went to the Riverside Farmers’ Market today. (It was sort of slim pickings–mostly just root vegetables, celery, berries and a few really too early tomatoes.) But I’m hopeful. I made stock today from all the odd and ends of vegetables–the things I would have normally thrown away: onion skins, the tops of carrots and fennel bunches, celery hearts and bits of aging greens. I’ve kept it all frozen in a bag, just as I was instructed to in an excellent book about food called An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. I bought flowers at the market.
I’m going to try and do better–write more, cook more.
Sometimes the liminal spaces, the spaces in between, when we’re waiting for something else, when our very lives are inconsistent but filled with anticipation, are the best places.