I am so grateful today not only for this rainbow, but for living in a community where it was widely celebrated. I was looking on Facebook for something else, and as we do, got sucked into scrolling through the home page, and there was shot after shot of this gorgeous double rainbow, from every possible perspective. I love my friends who celebrate the beautiful skies where we live, who care about the world we live in, who made the choice to take time during their evening to step outside and photograph a rainbow.
It’s a bit challenging to be grateful that my friends and family seem to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Ian, though the fate of my brother’s house in Naples remains to be determined, and Charleston cousins await the second landfall. Of course I’m grateful for the safety of my beloveds, but this catastrophe really hammers home our interconnectedness on this planet: the destruction of so much habitat, humans’ and other species alike, affects us all. As I experience relief, many thousands of others grieve their losses; and many non-human sentient beings have lost their lives or homes as well. This is a spiritual conundrum that requires strength, courage, and equanimity to be able to hold awareness of both the horrors and losses, as well as gratitude for the joys and blessings, of life in the Anthropocene.
I am grateful for the deluge that blessed us this afternoon in the valley, on the mesa. It poured for a good forty minutes, nourishing the drought-stricken land. Both patios were underwater and pathways were streams. I’m not the only one who stopped what I was doing (reading) and gawked at the downpour. I’m grateful to live among people who appreciate this gift from the storm gods; to know that my friends and neighbors also paused in their everyday lives to marvel at the glory of this rain.
It wasn’t quite a Hundred Year Flood like they got in Moab last weekend, a desert town a few hours west of here; nor was it like the five Thousand-Year Floods that have occurred in the US this past month. And maybe this particular rainstorm wasn’t a direct effect of climate chaos like the record-breaking floods in Dallas, Kentucky, St. Louis, Illinois, and Death Valley since July 26. Maybe our storm was just an extra heavy monsoon rain, but it was definitely unusual for this area in recent years, and most welcome. I’m grateful it didn’t last much longer, because it actually could have overflowed the patio into the front door. As it was, and rarely happens, wind and rain came from the east for part of the storm, melting adobe down the living room window. I’m grateful that all the other sides of my house got stuccoed years ago. I’m grateful I had the presence of mind this time to go outside and squeegee the window while it was still wet, so tomorrow I’ll only have a few streaks to wash off instead of a curtain of dried grit.
After the storm I wandered around the yard assessing erosion, and hunting for Biko. I was kind of worried he might have gotten caught in a puddle and drowned. As cold as it got so suddenly, he might not have been able to move if he’d been tucked in somewhere water was flowing, which happened to be most of the yarden. There are half a dozen places he tucks in for the night this time of year; he could have been anywhere else, too. I started my search in the dog pen where he hides in the dogloo or the dog house when he senses rough weather coming. But the ferocity of this storm caught us all off guard. I circled the yard checking his other hidey-holes, and found him under the lavender-cotton by the top gate.
I’m grateful for rainbows.
I ate the last fresh peach this morning, and harvested the two remaining apples on the heirloom tree, I’m so sad I can’t recall its name. Are the finches feasting on wild sunflower seeds also marauding the Fuji apple? It doesn’t appear so; the leaves are grasshopper eaten but the fruit is sound, and so much of it, more than ever before, dozens of apples, I’m so happy I thinned them! At least 59 Fuji apples. I’ve got my eagle eye on these, watching for predation by those pesky birds.
September is like the last hill on the roller coaster. You’re near the top, the wild rush of August harvest has unwound behind you, there is that last push of fall fruits and vegetables to get in before the varmints git ‘em. Rosie has a big squirrel in her garden. I’ve got a stray deer here and there reminding me it’s time to put up fences around trees and shrubs whose protective rings I’ve repurposed on smaller plants throughout the summer. Someone ate two fat cheeks off the biggest tomato of the season; just yesterday I thought that’s about ripe, maybe I should pick it, but it wasn’t ready to let go, and I didn’t come back. This morning’s rising sun highlighted the glistening dips in its flesh when I chanced to glance over from the patio, where I sipped coffee and listened to the raucous sound of morning.
Cynthia led a meditation on sounds last week that’s reminded me to cherish more the wild sounds and deeper silence where I’m blessed to live, like the cacophony of finches in the wild sunflower patch that sprang up on the south side. It’s been years since I’ve lived with a constant musical soundtrack, and for the past several I’ve lived with only intermittent music through the course of my waking day. More and more I find myself eschewing external music, to simply hear, and listen to, the music of nature: birds, crickets, wind, bees, coyotes at night, more coyotes this summer than I have heard in many years.
A great-horned owl has come a courting me. It must be me he woos, because I’ve listened long and faraway and do not hear another. And so I croon back to him a few times, though Stellar doesn’t like it and tries to make me stop, and soon I do stop, because it isn’t fair; I can’t give the owl what it’s looking for. But I sure do enjoy exchanging hoots with it for a few minutes on a clear full-moon night, or any other.
This morning, rain-washed and crisp, the golds of autumn jingle forth. Last Saturday we noticed the first hint of aspen turning up on Mendicant Ridge. By Tuesday the yellows were distinct, and after that storm moved over Wednesday night, the golds are glowing bright, clearly delineated patches among shades of greens, siennas and ochres, treed and rocky slopes. Air is brisk and the dogs are frisky.
Fall blows in on these winds that feel portentous. March winds last longer than they used to, and winter winds start early, in late summer. The breeze sometimes is just a bit too strong; I feel the atmosphere whipping up, winding up all this energy, that later, maybe elsewhere, will unwind with a fury. Ever since I watched the film Melancholia earlier this summer, I’ve viewed this world differently, trusting and allowing myself to sense and feel the changes, the subtle shifts in seasonal events, in their timing, likelihood, or nature. Something is coming, and all I want to do is make jam.
At the end of the day, though, it’s not about my garden and what I’ve grown and what I’ve put up and what I’ve enjoyed this summer. It’s about what we’ve all tended and grown and loved and eaten and shared and put up for winter, it’s about what we all do in our lives here on this fragile planet. It’s about not just this apple, but all them apples, too! The change that’s in the wind is about me and you, and the choices we make in the next few weeks. To be continued…
My first BLT of the season was a mess. I only had two slices of bread, which I over-toasted. The only organic “happy pig” bacon available when I shopped the other day was the thick cut, which is great with eggs and toast, but doesn’t work so well in a sandwich. Especially one with over-toasted bread. A rainstorm came just as I was preparing to go pick a few leaves of lettuce from what’s left of the garden, but I did have some left in the fridge. I wanted that sandwich now.
Saturday there were two perfect yellow tomatoes on the plant Fred gave me. They didn’t release when I tried to pluck them that day, so I decided to wait til today, since I was having dinner out last night. I was out all day at a video job. When I went to pick those two perfect tomatoes, there was only one. At lunchtime, Deborah assured me, when she came to give the cat his pill for me, there were two. She also assured me she didn’t pick one. Where did it go? It was in a narrow fenced bed.
Those two tomatoes were priceless. Or, if not priceless, at least extremely costly. When I think of what I pay for water to grow the garden, and what I pay for help building soil and preparing the beds, and then I think of how I watched all but that and one other tomato plant get eaten down by the old doe just as fast as they could grow, I come to the painful conclusion that I’m financially and energetically better off shopping the farmers’ markets or getting a half share in a CSA.
That old doe. Over the course of three days in mid-June, just after I’d eaten the first few peas, she mowed down both rows. One afternoon I was in the kitchen and looked out the window to see her munching the violas from a pot on the patio. Another time, I was working at my desk, and the worthless dogs were napping on the couch because it was “too hot” for them outside. That’s what they said, anyway. I chanced to look up and see her enjoying the blossoms and first little fruits on the big cherry tomato. A few weeks later, when Chris and Dave were here with three extra catahoulas on the grounds, my friend looked out and saw her chowing down on the parsley.
It’s my fault. Earlier in the summer I walked out and found her at the edge of the yard eating snowberry leaves. That was ok. She’s so old and grey-faced. I felt sorry for her, and I have snowberry to spare. So I didn’t shoo her off, and didn’t call the dogs off their couch, where they were that time because they “thought it might rain.” And so, because I’m a softy and the dogs aren’t doing their job, she thinks she has carte blanche in my garden.
Well, she’s only half the problem. Or less. The grasshoppers this year are voracious. They’ve eaten down all the brussels sprouts, made lace of the acorn squash leaves, and are continually topping the scarlet runner beans. They or the doe are keeping the beet greens and romaine trimmed almost to the ground. For some other reason, the bell peppers are stunted, the melon vines are barely bigger than when I put them in the ground two months ago, and several of the jalapeños haven’t even blossomed yet.
There’s almost nothing coming to fruition in my garden except the zucchinis and those two perfect golden tomatoes. I mean, that one. Oh well. First-World problems. But it hasn’t been a total bust. I got a platter of jalapeño poppers out of it, and five heads of red leaf lettuce. And tonight, at least, I wasn’t out of mayonnaise.
A few rays of sunlight through the darkling clouds, a wedge of blue sky behind wispies. We’ve all been grateful for the precipitation that’s come this winter, both here and in the high country. It bodes well for our next growing season. But I think I speak for everyone when I say Welcome! to the first glimpse of our mother star in what seems like at least a month.
Today I walked all the way to the canyon by myself, with the dogs of course, and with ski poles, for the first time in two weeks. Yesterday I walked there with a friend, and the day before took the dogs halfway. At the beginning of the week I tried, and could only make it a few steps past the gate, but I let the dogs run loose in the woods for awhile because they desperately needed the exercise.
My next try, on Friday, I walked through slush to the first chair, the dogs so good they wouldn’t go farther without me. To get them more exercise I continued a few steps on, but still they stuck with me better than average. A few steps more, I rounded the first corner downhill and found the kindness and compassion banner, strips of cotton, ribbon and paint made by a friend long ago, that had hung at the house for fifteen years until it was faded, bedraggled; I finally hung it in a tree in the woods last year. Whether nibbled by elk or shredded by weather it now lay in tatters on the ground, just the top few inches still intact. I brought it home and lay it in the compost bin, ashes to ashes.
Two weeks ago I woke up dizzy. After several dark days where I could barely open my eyes or leave the bed, I saw a few doctors, took a few supplements, and it began to improve incrementally after a week. Apparently it’s a virus that comes around every few years, and several others in the community are suffering with it as well. If you’re ever inclined to hurl a curse at someone, wishing them dizzy would be a wicked one.
Friday night, two other friends generously hosted a Love-In for Valentine’s Day, which went over well with a bunch of us both with and without sweethearts. It was a great equalizer and the party was full of love, warm red decor, and delicious food. Old friends were reunited, new friends were made. One couple even brought flowers for our hair. A day that began in dark separation concluded in bright togetherness.
So many of them do.