What the Hell

What the Hell

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bleach and Bicycles: Life in the Northwest

Had a nice walk the other day....through our neighborhood.  Was admiring the plantings in peoples' yards just now coming out for a peek at spring.  It is officially spring here now, but the locals know not to plant anything unprotected in the ground until May 1st, because there's always a chance of a late frost.  But things are budding and blooming early this year.  The cherry trees are already in full flower.  So I was ambling and noticing these things when I passed by a house I hadn't noticed before.  Well, actually what I noticed wasn't the house, but the....shall we call it.....landscaping?  At least half a dozen trees had old bicycles up in their branches.  I mean at least 6 or more feet off the ground, so I don't think it was the result of a errant cyclist's encounter with a tree.  Let's say it looked quite intentional....an eccentric form of yard art.  Now I remember my old Aunt Eller's bottle tree back in Texas, but this was unique.  Leave it to an islander.  Bikes are a big part of the culture here, so I guess it fits!  I made me laugh, which is always a difficult feat.  

Speaking of the season, everywhere the local residents have their own rituals of spring cleaning, but here they involve pressure washers and chlorine.  Let me explain.  Today I stopped to gas up my car, and when I opened the little door to the gas cap I saw something disturbing.  MOLD.  Imagine the hardiness of a strain of mold that can grow and thrive right there amongst all those petrochemical fumes.  But here in the Northwest we have scary mutant molds and fungi that can grow on anything.    I remember the year I discovered algae growing on all the rubber gaskets on my car.  It grows on the mirror we have at the end of the driveway because we live on a busy street.  And last spring a fairy ring (that's a ring of mushrooms to the initiated) showed up in my yard.  If it comes back this year I'm stomping it to bits!  It scared me to death; having never seen one before, I imagined a strange fungus growing in a circle because something DEAD was buried there and it was encircling it insidiously.  Quite naturally, but ominous nonetheless.  Or else some errant wiccans had performed some freaky nature ritual at that very spot...YIKES!  Then I remembered with a panic the article I had read somewhere about the super fungus that looks like mushrooms above ground and below ground goes down deep and stretches for miles and miles in the subterranean depths.  It lives up here.  Look it up.  Largest Living Organism.  In Oregon.  I'm sure they have it here in Washington now as we speak.     Ick. Turned out mine was a different variety.   It is so damp so much of the year here that everything is on the fast track to decay; enter the molds and fungus.  And I'm allergic to the damn things!   I still don't understand why they build wooden houses here.  And they all have decks on them.  Go figure.  Everything rots twice as fast.  So every spring when it starts to warm up we survey the damage from the damp season and then get out the BLEACH.  Right, I said bleach.  Sure, you can buy that pricey stuff at the hardware store to kill moss and algae and anything else green and fuzzy, but I looked at the label, and the main active ingredient is chlorine bleach.  And that stuff is cheaper than dirt.   The bleach mixed with soapy water sprayed on your house, fence, etc. etc...does the trick.  But let  me tell you it gets tiring having to fight all this decay year after year.  Maybe that's part of why my artwork has that decaying, rusty, ancient look to it....Hmmm.  

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