Summer Solstice

Norway Maple Leaves

For three months, the west wind scoured our Hood River Valley with an abrasive, hygienic brush. It burnished the trees, leaving behind a lustrous sheen of renewal. During that time, the Oregon spring doled out single days of warmth. Plummeting temperatures followed each balmy interlude. Yet, in spite of inclement weather, the earth simmered. Right on schedule, the roots of field grasses spurred their shoots upwards and wildflowers stalked the delinquent sun.

Last night, my cat, Spanky, awakened me at one in the morning. He pushed his paw against my cheek. I rolled over. Undeterred, he hopped onto the bedside table and nudged my glasses to the floor with a clatter. I pretended to sleep. Then, he began wrestling with the strap to my camera. His attempt to attract my attention worked. He wanted me to know that summer had arrived. Reluctantly, I arose.

I get out of bed slowly. Neuropathy in my feet and lower legs makes me unsteady. Within moments, though, it is as if I shed the skin of disability. The numbness subsides with movement. I shuffled toward the entry. Spanky wove between my legs, nearly upending me in his frenzy to go out. I opened the door. After a brief pause to sniff for danger, he disappeared into the seething magic of the June night.

Spanky and Wildflowers

The seasonal transition energizes me. My body continues to improve its tolerance of the maintenance chemo’s side effects. My cat notwithstanding, I sleep well. I feel strong and rested for both work and play. My peripheral neuropathy reached a plateau in April. Since that time, the instances of nerve pain moderated. My M-spike holds steady at 0.5 mg/dL. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The six-mile walks I take 2-3 times a week are the best barometers of my health. Most often, I finish these jaunts refreshed and eager for the next opportunity. The anemia that bothered me when I first began taking Revlimid ceased as my body adjusted. I have vitality to spare that feels natural.

At times like this, my cancer, multiple myeloma, does not feel so scary. I don’t underestimate its resilience. I know numerous individuals whose experience with this illness parallels mine. Moreover, I know that all of us will eventually relapse. One person, dear to me, is fighting right now for every single day. Nevertheless, this cancer’s ability to advance after successful treatment does not intimidate me. For the time being, I enjoy a good quality of life. That is enough.

Full Moon

This morning, I awoke, as usual, at 5:30. I plodded to the kitchen to brew coffee. From there I returned to the front door and called for Spanky. He galloped across the deck and slipped inside, crowing all the while about his nighttime adventures. Seedpods lay tangled in the downy fur of his belly, remnants of his prowl in the pasture. The long grass had dampened his coat. After a snack and thorough cleaning, he lay curled on my lap, tired but contented. My hands rested on the keyboard, and I wondered what I was going to say.

10 thoughts on “Summer Solstice

  1. Happy summer, John, to you and to Spanky.

    I love your post. It made me happy that summer is here and it made me laugh at the joy that animals (cats, especially) bring to our lives. Cats sure know how to live.

    I am glad that you are feeling well, enjoying your walks, enjoying life.
    I wish you all the best.


  2. Your fingers said it beautifully… and the shots of your world are rejuvenating as well. I always enjoy your postings, John, and intend for you a summer of good numbers!


  3. I want to be a beloved housecat in my next life. When I said that to my Mom over the phone recently, she asked, alarmed, “Margaret, are you feeling OK?” You know what I mean, though. 🙂
    Stefano and I never leave anything (breakable) on top of our bedtables. Otherwise…we’d be sorrrrrry! 🙂 I agree wholeheartedly with Liliana…such joy they bring to our lives…
    I also echo Sandy’s comment…goooood numbers….not just this summer but always! 🙂


  4. Love the imagery and the phrasing – and also your love of the four leggeds of the world. Have a few of mine including a cat that found me about a year ago. He’s an indoor cat – but I’ve always wondered about letting him roam again outside. I worry that he won’t come back – and I’ve really come to depend on his presence.

    Amazing how they work themselves into our lives.

    Wishing you positive numbers in all the poker games we play!

    – Jeff


  5. Wonderful read on this warm afternoon. Celebrating with you the joys of summer, feeling well, a contented Spanky curled up on your lap, 6 mile walks, and very good numbers!


  6. So glad to read your posts again and to know that you are keeping on top of things and seem so very well and enjoying your walks, your lovely life in this special part of the world. Wishing you a special wonder-filled summer and all very best wishes from the Linc Wolds UK


  7. Yay – your body is adjusting, and soon, you will be like me. Other than being very tired (so I take naps in the afternoon), I don’t really experience many REV side effects any more. Oh – except a runny nose.

    Great post – thanks for the update. Glad you are sleeping well. I hope you have many wonderful dreams, and that they all come true 🙂



  8. John you are as eloquent as the last time I read your blog, regrettably about 15mo ago. I love and miss the Hood River Valley that you paint with words and photos, and hope to return someday. Best to you.

    Tillie, now there’s a name I remember.



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