Long live these days before snowdrifts and ice. Long live square toed boots and shadows in the late afternoon light. This is a gratitude post, a bowing down before the riches of my damned lucky life, a thing that people do at this time of year. How could anything be so miraculous when it's so ordinary? It is, though, it totally is. I could never have pictured this life before I had it; my imagination did not have the vocabulary for its strangeness and sacrifices and grace. Long live whatever it is that will keep me from taking it for granted.
... because I had one of those "the best camera is the one you have with you" moments.
And I took a shot, and put the phone away, and brought the groceries in, and made a fast batch of carrot soup for Myron's dad, and reheated some rotisserie chicken for myself, and did a face mask, and then I remembered that I wanted to write a little something today, something barely bigger than a photo caption. I checked out the photo. It was close enough, so here it is--after what feels like two full weeks of cloudy skies at a time when I need crispness most, the gray blew away and the colors came out again.
To think I used to believe branches were unforgivably ugly.
Can I say I like having the excuse to write such short, inconsequential things and to have them count for something? I do. I'm going to be all about the brevity. FREEDOM.
'cause I would really really love to stick around
I have had chronic autumn whining disease since I was about eight years old. As The Cult of Fall became ever more prominent in recent years I always just thought autumn lover types were harmlessly insane. That first yellow leaf always gave me more foreboding "Winter is coming" vibes than Ned Stark ever could. The urban forest here is gorgeous, though, even though it's almost uniformly golden and less showy than eastern landscapes. Walking down streets like this, when the light is weaker and the dry leaves clatter against each other, you feel held. It's kind of amazing.
When my littlest brother was in nursery school, he came home with this book about death called The Fall of Freddie the Leaf. I read it. Freddie rustles in the breezes and offers shade for picnicking old people and then October comes with the cold and wind, and everyone changes color. A kindly leaf tells Freddie that everybody dies, and at the end, even though Freddie said he was absolutely not going to die, wheeeeeeee Freddie falls and it’s as orgasmic as that saying about skidding into your grave at full throttle shouting What a Ride!
My tree has gone Freddie, all yellow and autumn-smelling and on its way to its annual nakedness. It’s a big tree, lots of leaves. Lots of raking. Next year I may not even have a tree at all to clean up after. The little girl in me who learned wrong lessons about death too early does not like autumn or falling leaves or anything that speaks of endings. The rest of me tries to talk some sense into that little girl and to be the kindly leaf. Life is change. You’re alive, still. You change, and everything changes around you. You are not the center of the storm. You are made of it and every time you breathe you stir things up some more.
I have been quiet in a lot of ways since spring, mostly because to talk of the minutiae of this life (the packing, the loneliness, the damn shoulder) feels one-note to me, and though I fail a lot, I try not to be one-note. I myself am sick of what I have to say. I wish, instead of bagging up all these leaves in environmentally sound paper leaf bags for the city to haul away, I could be piling their dry husks into an old metal barrel and tickety-boom setting them on fire. This is what I need right now, a good hot blaze instead of a slow decay.
The good news: I swear I smell it, just a hint. Mixed in with the clean chill of the air and the musty fallen leaves, overpowering the parade of pumpkin-spiced this and pumpkin-spiced that, and in concert with geese flying south: sulfur and phosphorus, a freshly struck match. Maybe it’s some kind of anticipatory hallucination, maybe it’s hope or a memory, and maybe it’s someone down the street with more balls than I have. It gives me nerve. It smells better than I can tell you.
Monday it was too gorgeous to stay inside. I threw on a sweater and headed out to Dow’s Lake.
The trees aren’t changing much yet, but I sat by the water and thought and wrote and thought. I made sense out of the senseless.
I sat in a garden and wrote and thought some more. I appreciated the sun. The day warmed up and I regretted choosing the sweater and then gave in and sweated.
The bright pink ones are eye-catching, especially against the purple whatever-that-is-that-isn’t-lavender, but I liked the patches like these best. Everything’s fading now. Even the sunsets are quiet and dim, as if there’s no energy left at six-thirty to put on a show.
Unlike the sun and the seasons and little pink flowers, I can tell myself to cheer up.
A long stroll through an old neighborhood becoming new, an early dinner, a glass of wine. Just enough to send me home with my notebook and good memories.