chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: autumn

November…

fall

MONSOON…

The earth…

the autumn garden…

stolen appleBehind a gentle afternoon breeze, a big wind — the first of the season — gusts in from the north. Unusually warm — what reaches us from that direction is typically well-chilled somewhere in the sub-Arctic plains of Canada — it scrubs and ruffles the clouds for a blazing sunset, brightens the eyes of the stars and calls due the maple leaves that have lingered extra long in their dazzle of red-orange.

This is a busy season for gardening, when depleted vegetables and spent vines and errant irises are tended with an eye toward barren winter and productive spring. The last broadcast of summer’s ambitious weed seeds has taken hold.

The squirrels are busy, too. They help themselves to apples, carry them away in their teeth and leave chewed cores scattered around the yard. Run off in mid-theft, a squirrel will usually keep hold of its treasure. But not always. The apple sat on the fence for most of the afternoon before it was reclaimed.

Tucked among the herbs and under yellowing hosta leaves are apples “buried” in holes that would do well for a peanut but leave the fruit half exposed. I throw them down the untamed slope behind the house, where some critter will find them, or perhaps they’ll sprout and join the feral grove.

Under a rain of leaves, I move through the garden pulling, trimming, clearing. Knowing that the real work is indoors: the poems that need pruning, or sit buried in files waiting to be reclaimed, or swirl in wind-ruffled eddies of words, teasing, just beyond reach. Seeds of the feral grove.

IN FALL…

we heard…

autumn at 9 a.m.

season-work

cotoneaster juniper fog
 
Unusual weather has settled upon us. After a run of perfect autumn days, fog crept in. First, just for a morning visit. Then morning and evening. Then just fog all fog.

As the maples blaze copper and red and the last of the green tomatoes ripen on the kitchen counter, fog glazes every surface with its speckled dampness. In the first days it seemed to hold warmth. But now it carries a deep chill, sends us searching for sweaters, resigns us to the tick and roar of the heater and infuses our conversations. Is summer, we sigh, really over?

And everywhere, spider webs. As if readying for Halloween, the slow, fat-bellied spiders of autumn have knitted up the garden, dropped their silken ropes from eaves and slung nets along fences. The morning’s lingering darkness reveals a pale patchwork of webs high on the telephone pole, caught in the street light’s wan pinkish glow.

The spiders instruct me with their industry.

on a puddle…

a cold rain…

in wind…

Among the leaves…

leaves and friend
My jacket should be emblazoned with a warning: I stop for leaves. The day is clear, the sun turning the last of the red and orange trees into stained glass. I bend to pick up shards of maple and oak, turn them in my fingers, let them sink back to the littered ground.

Ahead of the wind, the day’s ambitious raking demarcates yards. But enormous drifts of color pool through the neighborhood. In one, perhaps 30 feet from the nearest house, a tiny pumpkin shines in its failed camouflage.

From the dozens of leaves I’ve picked up and dropped, I keep two huge, glossy maples, carry them with me and set them, curious centerpieces far from trees, on the metal table anchored to the sidewalk outside the museum.

—–Today is the one-year anniversary of the beginning of chocolate is a verb, and the 300th post. If you are a subscriber, thank you. If you’re not, this would be an excellent time to subscribe!

wintry…

Prairie Fire crabappleAfter the shakedown — high wind, torrential rain — the maple trees on the back slope are mostly bare and the squirrel highway is back in view. For half the year, there’s just a shimmy and bounce as they zip along the branches from tree to tree. But now, in the frosty morning sunshine, the squirrels dash and dart, pause to flick their tails and bark their warning, then scramble and soar into the dense cover of the cedar or Doug fir.

A moment later, a squirrel appears on the fence and makes a quick jump to the pecan tree and then the crabapple. There, in a wintry ruff of fur and in the company of fluffed-up chickadees and juncos, it sits on its haunches and consumes the bitter, hard, cranberry-sized fruits that decorate the tree for the season.

a riff on leaves…

November leavesClouds clotted in the east, scraps of clear sky above, rain gathering itself for another drenching. In the cool air, the wan November sun does its best to warm my back as I pick up leaves and more leaves, as if this leaf thing, like the dishes thing, could be done, could be counted as an accomplishment. The yard is freckled, then blanketed with leaves, mushrooms sprouting, cyclamen sending out their curled tendrils.

I read the leaves, like runes, their color and curl, their angle and order, their drift from the source. Some saturated and already well into decay, others leathery, with fat rain drops standing on their tanned skin. Tiptoeing between the shrubs, kneeling to reach across the top of a mounded cedar, I pick the leaves from the feathery green fronds of a twisted cypress, drop them into a bucket, reach and drop, over and over.

Silly, I tell myself, glancing over my shoulder at the still-leafy maples in the next block. The trees aren’t finished, and neither are the dishes, but I persist, today as yesterday, this year as last, in this autumn dance, this moist meditation.

transition…

Rose-of-SharonWindows misted with fog, sky soggy gray, trees fringed with reds and russets. A wash of damp, rustle and slap of leaves shaken by impulsive wind. A single Rose-of-Sharon tightly furled, hanging on, hopeful: just one more day of sun, one more chance to lure a bee or bird, to flaunt a crimson throat before the bitter shear of winter, the weightless tumble, the slow sodden churn to mulch.
—–
Rose-of-Sharon

after the wind…

after the windThe palette of morning:
pale blue wash, pink streaks, sponged charcoal, feathery greens…and autumn. Clots of sodden leaves burrow in every hollow of the garden, snagged in branches, tucked impossibly beneath stones, a lavish tapestry awaiting my obsessive unweaving…

sky traffic…

crows by Tom MerrimanWhere were the crows going when I saw them? Late afternoon, perhaps a hundred or more, spread out across the equivalent of four or five blocks, ragtag, quiet, flying north. Perhaps they roost in the county, blackening de-leafed cottonwoods with their numbers, a birds-eye view over shorn fields and gray highways offering fare more delectable for plumping feathers against the season’s chill. Perhaps they discuss their plans for winter vacations, share stories of annoying eagles, recount tales of raccoons and guns. And maybe their conversations are semantic, parsing the bad taste of eating crow, as the crow flies, crow’s feet or the very wrongness of crowds and crowns and crowbars.
—–
photo by Tom Merriman and much fascinating crow lore by Kate St. John

falling…

Pouring rain, the greens darkened to nearly black, the sky an undifferentiated thickness of gray. The newspaper remains on the front walk curled into its rubber-banded plastic bag. Newly painted, the siding is somber, lifted directly from the palette of rain. The coffee pot ticks as it cools. The rain sounds like an industrial fan as it drenches the roof. Leaves drip, droop, drop. Autumn.

equinox

Italian prune plumsFall blows in. Morning cloud-tops smoothed and combed, a surprise of pink far to the south, the belly of dawn. One near-black wombat of cloud scurries past, bright crust of moon suspended high overhead.

The yard is freckled with leaves — maple, plum, elm, cottonwood — wakened from their summer indolence, surprised into letting go.

The wind is warm and moist, without autumn’s northern chill. I step out in the tropical half-light to gather the last of the summer’s plums.