There is a nip in the air, here on the Cutoff; not yet a first frost, but an unmistakable chill that calls out for hearty soups and warm shawls, a good book and cups of steaming tea. Bittersweet has appeared at floral shops, and rows upon rows of pumpkins line every supermarket entrance as we entertain thoughts of Jack-o-Lanterns and pumpkin pie.
Daily, now, I take a stroll to the back of our property. I look to the left in dismay at the increasingly greater amount of trees that have been felled, the mountain of sawdust and the towers of logs. I plot, in my mind, how to make this all work to our advantage, all-the- while walking, shuffling, in the fallen leaves. It is the soft, slightly muffled sound and the crunch that brings me comfort in the flowing of seasons, one unto another, that I love so much about living here in middle America.
To the right, there are a few puffballs and I make mental notes to check them daily to monitor their growth, remembering the king of puffballs that we gently lifted and took to a nature center last year.
Ground zero brings fairy rings, dancing in the autumnal sunlight, sheltering fairies, I’m certain. Who else so expertly takes the caps off of acorns that are scattered about?
Whatever annuals remain now in pots are ravaged. The deer in the night, bold enough to come straight up to the house for midnight snack. Coleus salad, potato vine pie, and a nip of moon vine for the road; a regular frat party on the campus of the University of the Cutoff.
Much of the weekend was spent cutting back peonies, raking out withered ferns, and pulling the weeds that were hidden under so much growth. It is good to see the soil again, find the gazing ball that was hidden from view, and to watch the birds in a mad frenzy glean the seeds and insects that suddenly appear. It is a good time of year to take stock of what is, and to dream of what can be.
It is also time to clear out our plot in the community garden. I harvested a good hat full of tomatoes last week, and Tom and I gathered more this weekend. Soon, very soon, the plants will be pulled and composted, the fencing will come down, and we will sigh a good sigh at the fruits we reaped from our efforts as well as the sense of community that prevailed.
Now, where is that shawl – oh, there, draped on Aunt Ethel’s old cane rocking chair, just waiting for me and a book.