Summer has always been my least favorite season, even though many wonderful things have happened during the June-September interval. It’s better when there are thunderstorms, but this summer seemed dry and without much character of its own.
In June, my friend Diana and I passed time and anticipated hockey season by going to some public skates. She’s the concertmaster of PASO, and a few weeks into June, we played at the Library of Congress together. I met some wonderful musicians, brushed up my waltz chops, and enjoyed the view. Apparently Sergio, the conductor, never resists the opportunity to photobomb someoene. That’s what I get for taking a selfie.
On the last day of June, Goony got very sick. The morning of July 1, they told me she only had a few weeks to live, as they had found cancer in her mouth, stomach and liver. When I arrived at the vet, her condition quickly worsened: she had waited for me to arrive, and it was clear that she was in great distress. Without hesitation, I asked them to put her to sleep. Her limbs were bent in strange ways, her breathing quick and strained, her eyes dim. It seemed like an eternity between my decision and the procedure. P was speeding up 495 to try and catch her, but I put her pain ahead of P’s desire for a proper goodbye, and a few minutes before he burst through the door, the doctor gently administered the medicine. There is still a Goony-shaped hole in our hearts. What a magnificent little beast she was.
Almost exactly a month after Lucy died, P and I decided to adopt another cat. No sense having one more animal in a shelter when there’s a house with room in it, right? We got Bella, who was described by her foster as “…a quintessential lady. The quietest thing ever.”
I have no idea where these descriptors come from. This cat meows like a cannon and craps like a Marine. And we love her. A few weeks after she had settled in, we got Hermione, aka Beebee, because research seems to indicate that cats are happier in multiples. They get along, for the most part. They’ve both grown exponentially since these pictures were taken.
Summer also began my volunteer work at Walter Reed. I thought I would have more time to devote, but the way it’s worked out, I do a few hours a week, and I have to be happy with that. Or not. It’s not about me, is it?
One ritual that has followed me east is the beach trip. The closest approximation of seaside is Sandy Point, a manmade spot underneath the Bay Bridge on the Chesapeake. The sand is weird- the grains are big and round, and halfway between red and tan. The water is brackish, but still serves as a baptism enough, refreshing my connection to the largeness of nature. Sometimes I lie there and listen to the wash of sound: kids playing, waves sloshing, container ships mournfully hooting in the near distance. This summer was the summer of Radiolab, and as I saw the year begin to close with little relief from the restlessness that has been the signature of my time in DC, I found comfort in learning, in listening.
At the end of July, I taught at SCOR! Chesapeake, a duty I will be reprising in 2015, should any of you adult string players feel the inclination to join me. I am so grateful to Beth and Kyle, who run the camp, for trusting me with their students. I also enjoyed the drive through Baltimore and under the Bay to get to camp. One drive home, I listened to Björk’s Homogenic end to end and was reminded of how nice it is to immerse yourself in a single album. Our iTunes a la carte listening has made us such impatient consumers of music.
Summer took forever to end, with warm temperatures continuing into October. In August, I returned to the college, teaching two new courses and feeling back on my heels once again, the march of time simultaneously grinding me down and bringing assurances that this too, shall pass. The good and the bad, like it or not.