September 18, 2010

A Bowl of Raspberries

Today I painted. When I woke I was warm under my duvet. I tried to think about the day's Saturdayness and go back to sleep. But the ticking clock still won. I rolled out of bed, donned my well-worn painting clothes, grabbed my cereal, grabbed the keys, and headed out the door.

I drove the truck over to my grandparents- (yes, the truck I passed my driver's test on). I always wonder what people think of me when they see me driving it- what the older neighbor of my grandparent's thought as he saw my huge Suburban lumber down and chortle to a stop in his lane- and me- small and in paint clothes with braided hair- open the door and slide (yes, slide) to the ground. (Little girl, big truck. Watch out, world.)

My Nonna showed me my work. In their backyard they have a workhouse and a new shed- about 6' by 10' with a porch at each end. The porch needed painting- the beams, the side of the building, and the underside of the pitched roof. As I glanced up at my work- a dull fear began to dawn: spiders.

The sheds are, what Nonna calls, spider-hotels. Big ones. Baby ones. Dead ones. Mostly-dead ones. And very-much-alive ones.  

Uh, I'm terrified of spiders. Now stinging-things I can handle, (I'd make pets of bumble-bees if they'd let me), flies and mosquitoes I'll coexist with, and I freely admit that I have a certain fondness for snakes and frogs but spiders!- *shudder* -malicious, unpredictable, creepy-crawlies that they are- I hold them all in irrational mortal terror.

I watched as Nonna showed me how to use the ladder on the porch. She handled and mounted the web-embraced ladder with a nonchalance that made me squirm. I choked down my outbursts of, "THERE'S A SPIDER NEAR YOUR HAND!"

Then while she went and got the paint (yellow wood stain and white trim) I got the porch ready.  I'm glad she wasn't there to watch me. I jabbed at those webs and hid my head and squirmed and jumped and writhed and shuddered that porch clean. Oh-my-goodness-thank-heaven-it's-over.

I proceeded to paint the porch. Though my frequent use of painting ladders has abated my fear of heights, it still took a good hour for my dexterity to kick in. Dizziness was frequent today. Tripping and spinning and loss of equilibrium left me feeling like a sack of potatoes tied to a helium balloon blowing in an unsteady wind: I never knew if I was up or down.

Get to the raspberries.

The day progressed. A cold wind brushed against my sandaled-feet. I listened to classical music which made my brush feel like a conductor's stick and my troublesome, ever-thirsty wood an artist's easel. I was painting like Monet and the yard was Paris, the sky was blue forever. Then I listened to a rather disgruntled country singer. I would have turned her off but it was far too troublesome what with being up on a ladder with my head in a roof and my hands covered in paint.

Nonna made me a simply lovely lunch of hamburgers and french-bread and artichoke-spread and we talked about school and (can you guess?) weddings. (She started it!)

I worked away. The sun wasn't so bright. Acorns were falling- crashing to the ground. My head was swirling- and my paint was splattering. Everything was fading and falling. I worked at every which angle- reaching under eaves- resting precariously on unpainted and painted boards alike- leaning, feet on the ladder, backwards- my head resting on the spider-free underside of the roof.

I took a break. I was a mess. I looked like the canvas of a modern-artist. I looked like I'd been communing with birds. I looked, as Nonno laughingly said, like an Indian in war-paint.

Now for the raspberries. 

Nonna poured a whole package of beautiful red raspberries into a bowl- and directed me towards the ice-cream. I plopped big scoops right on top and went out on the porch- Nonno joined me with his bowl of blackberries.

We sat on the porch and ate. Oh, delight. The raspberries were rich, succulent bursts of flavor, the ice-cream thick and sweet and cold- the sky was again blue. The spiders and the aches and the dizziness and the stickiness of paint clinging to my face and hair and clothing faded away.

My spoon cut through cream- it dove for berries- and Summer kissed me in my bowl.

That was my bowl of raspberries. That was my day of painting. The lunch, the music, the outdoors, the sounds of falling acorns, the lunch, my grandparents, and the money all were great. But the raspberries- the raspberries made my day.


  1. Sounds like a marvelous day. Except for the spiders. And especially for the berries.

  2. Mm, sounds like bliss.

    Minus the spiders part. :shudder:

    Word verification: "yerasome" though it can't spell very well, the WV agrees that you're awesome. :D