October gold

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As we pass the mid-point of October, it has lived up to its golden promise, despite the early bitter cold winter storm and the continuing below normal temperatures.  There is a duskiness to the red colors and some of the leaves look ready to fall without turning, but the yellows and oranges are glowing.  I’ve been spending as many late afternoons as I can around a campfire down by the water.  We have so much driftwood to burn, and at 45 degrees, with a bit of sun, the fire is just enough to make an hour or two of reading quite pleasant.  A little black kitty on my lap warms my hands.

So that I feel deserving of these afternoon soirees by the fire, I’ve given myself a hefty list of chores to accomplish, including the commitment to do one organizing/deep cleaning/clearing-out project every day.  Last Sunday, I decided to go through a cabinet in the kitchen that includes many cookbooks, collected over the years.  Oh, was that a long journey down memory lane, and in the end, there were only six books I was prepared to take to Goodwill.  I saved the ones with food stains, reminding me of all the times I prepared that dish through the years, when the three girls still gathered around my kitchen table each night.  There was the one from my mom, her crisp hand-writing inscribing my name, and signed, “From Mother”.  All the cookbooks which friends have given me over the years, including several from a friend when I lived in Boston, now 43 years ago.  And, there was one book with Mrs. Chard’s recipes from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in which she recorded sweet and lovely little stories about her life as a farmer.  Here was one from the harvest season:

“This autumn, Nature first gave us lovely plumes of red here and there, then the oranges came, and last the maples’ gold that makes the woods look like sunshine even on a cloudy day.  Then she spread a beautiful paisley shawl over our big hill and we were treated to Heaven’s finest colors.  We here at the home-place are especially favored when the winds come to bring the golden leaves whirling down like a dance of fairies.  We have witnessed one of Nature’s most beautiful miracles, the grand finale of a bountiful season and the promise of a new one to come.”  —Hollyhocks and Radishes Cookbook

There was a sunset one evening that lasted three hours.  I’d started the campfire about 5:00 and, with nary a hint of breeze, it was utterly quiet. The only sounds were the loons talking to one another, and an occasional pop of the fire.  As the light continually changed, I took photo after photo, each more stunning, and watched a Bald Eagle swoop over the water, looking unsuccessfully for a fish.  I’d never heard this before, but Chatpeau let out a low growl.  I didn’t even know that cats growled.  She then dashed up to the porch to watch me from safety, and I clapped my hands a few times, knowing there is a bear in the woods, and decided it was time to go into the house, and watch golden light from inside.  The Hunter Moon appears full, night after night, and our bedroom is awash in white light.  Come morning, there are sparkles across the lake as it finally begins to set over the mountains on the west side.  It’s been “the grand finale of a bountiful season…”.

“But quite typically, something happens during the third week of the month..  The jet stream sags south, storms–lined up in the Pacific– make their way into the region.”  Cliff Mass, University of Washington meteorologist

It is all coming to an end tomorrow as the Pacific storms make their way over the mountains to our neck of the woods, with valley rain and snow at higher elevations.  I see nothing but wind and rain for at least a week, and temperatures which flirt with snow.   But, October has been grand, and has put on quite the most wonderful show.

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