Another summer, another season. This morning I made a fire in the woodstove and the smell of smoke took me forward into fall. It was a long hot summer and the Douglas firs began to show the stress about ten days ago, rusty needles falling over the patio, the car, and settling into the kale leaves so that I need to rinse them before I use them. (Though this morning’s rain has rinsed the ones I just picked completely clean!)
Autumn is a time of paradox. I let things go — keeping the plants on the decks tidy and dead-headed (because most of them will go to the compost in the next week or so; or else they’ll be pruned back and brought into the sun-room or, in the case of the potted roses, tucked against the house for winter); keeping the beans picked (they’re still producing but I’m letting them get big for seed); and not bothering to worry about watering. John has coiled the hoses for winter. The birds have stripped the mountain ash berries, small and fermented, and hit the windows in their drunkenness. (No casualties yet but I suspect more than a few of them have nursed fairly major headaches…) No more summer salads. The other night I made a casserole of rabbit in wine, the juices mixed at the end with cream and Dijon mustard. A handful of chanterelles. Grilled polenta slices to hold the sauce. Raccoons are eating the last of the grapes and the bears, like us, are waiting for salmon.
A time to settle in and burrow into writing. Our friend Anik visited for a few days, enroute home to Amsterdam from a three-month residency at the Berton House in Dawson City, and we talked about our work. She’s calling what she’s working on “fictional essays” and I like that. It’s an interesting way to approach the “what ifs” that the stacks of material I have constantly ask me. What if you knew more about your grandfather’s boyhood? (Another paradox: I know the name of the midwife who delivered him in Ivankivtsi (or Ivankovtsy) in 1879 but I don’t know if he had brothers or sisters.) What if someone wrote to you and told you she was your mother’s sister? Her cousin? What if the mysterious woman in the photograph among your father’s papers began to speak?
When I went out to cut the kale this morning (for a breakfast smoothie, in case you’re wondering…), my feet (in flip-flops) were soaked with rain and the cool air of the last day of September. But the morning glories are blooming, their flowers the blue of a summer sky.