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Gopher gulch: Spinning like a top

Inez Castor

When I was a little girl, going to the bathroom meant running down the path to the privy. The tiny shed had a door that faced the woods, and it was probably called the privy because it was used privately.

Inside was a well-worn seat with a hole in the middle and a rough roll of tissue. Most folks left the door open because the view was lovely and it was a great place to sit and think. Unlike the port-a-potties at festivals and fairs, this was a one-family unit dug deep, and so there really wasn't much unpleasant odor.

The privy wasn't sealed, so dust motes and daydreams floated in the sunbeams that flowed between the boards. The doorknob was a wooden spool that once held thread, with a nail pounded through the central hole and into the plank door. With a finger, you could spin it like a top.

Surviving change

Everyone I encounter these days is so caught up in change that we're spinning like the spool on the privy door. Perhaps it has something to do with winter settling down on us earlier than usual. Perhaps it's simply because our entire society is like a truck without brakes on a long, downhill slope, moving faster and faster until all we can do is close our eyes and hang on tight.

Last week's barometric shenanigans didn't help a bit. As the barometer plunged and soared, a lot of people went from despair and crying jags to giddy foolishness, while wondering if they were losing their minds. In truth, we were unconsciously mirroring the universal rollercoaster ride with incidents of road rage and random acts of kindness.

Many of us are one project away from being safe for the winter, and so we're trying to keep one eye on the storm headed our way and the other on the job we're finishing. This can lead to eye strain, headaches, smashed fingers and profanity.

A warm, cozy room

I'm between projects and crying jags, so the weekend seemed like a very good time to get at least one indoor room synchronized with the season. Maybe the adjustment to winter won't be so difficult if I'm not surrounded by the bright pinks and yellows of spring.

So I started at the top of the living room, sweeping down the cobwebs and cleaning the ceiling fan blades. I washed the windows and vacuumed under and behind everything but the piano.

Then I replaced all the phony spring flowers with equally phony fall foliage. Tacky? Perhaps, but they fill my need for bright colors and add joy to dark days.

If you're feeling exhausted, confused and out of control, know that you're probably normal, and there are techniques that can help you make the transition to winter without unnecessary bloodshed.

Make your personal space warm and welcoming. Add the colors we'd see if we lived in New England and scent the air with sacred cedar or warming cinnamon. Winter will still happen, but you're less likely to be spinning like the spool on the privy door.

Reach Inez Castor, a long-time Triplicate columnist, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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