“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
― J.K. Rowling
The rains did come. Now, for the month of October, we are 291% above normal in precipitation and the mountain tops are covered in snow. It was as if the maroon velvet curtains were pulled across the stage, after the final performance of Indian Summer. We did have a beautiful sunny 50 degree day here yesterday. Don spent most of the time high up in the blue sky above the roof, scraping off moss that has collected over nearly twenty years. He’s been up there for weeks, harnessed to 100 year old trees, tediously scraping away, making incremental progress it seems to me. But, I know he likes it up there–he tells me about the interesting birds going by overhead, the shifting winds out on the lake. I guess it’s a nice way to escape all that is happening on earth. I’ve been doing as many chores outside that I can think up, putting away cushions and furniture, badminton rackets and boat shoes. I cleaned ashes out of the fire pit down by the water yesterday, wondering if we will really have any friends come over in their parkas to share a socially-distanced cocktail. Maybe there will be some time before everything is dripping with rain or covered by snow.
Under the cover of darkness, our neighbors pulled out early yesterday morning, and never said goodbye. I saw a light on around 5 am, and thought maybe Carl had gone hunting. But, their gate up on the highway was locked and all the geraniums on the lakeside porch were gone. We felt sad. Don was a bit concerned that back in June, when we turned down their invitation to have dinner–explaining our Covid-19 precautions–we had insulted them. They are not really ‘friends’–our politics are so divergent that an enormous chasm keeps us separated–but they are very good neighbors, and over the years, we’ve enjoyed a summer meal together to catch up after their winters in Florida, chats across our docks, family updates. Carl always leaves us some of his tomatoes on the front porch. I texted them late in the day, saying goodbye and safe travels, and they replied they had just checked into a motel in Casper, Wyoming, and sent photos of the snowstorm, and we both said we were so sorry we couldn’t socialize at all this summer, and maybe next year.
The winds are raging again this morning and squalls are coming across the lake. The dreaded east winds are predicted to rage through here late in the night, dumping more snow in the mountains, causing power outages, and perhaps a dusting of snow in the valleys. There is a snow icon on the NOAA site for days to come, and long-range forecasting suggests the possibility of a genuine polar front late next week. With the pandemic and election fears, it feels like a long winter is ahead. I’m already getting those “Best Christmas Ever!” catalogues in the mail right now–nearly outnumbering the election propaganda. They all go directly into the recycling bin.
So, I’m moving inside, to our warm and cozy home. We’ve had our first crackling fire, the wool plaid throws are draped over chairs with extra ones stacked on the bench. I’ve kept the summer furniture arrangement in the living room, with the sofa looking directly out to the lake, and it’s been pleasant to sit there and watch the waves. And, with the afternoon sun so low in the sky, it casts golden light across the amber-colored fir floors, and fills the room with a magical glow. I bought a craft table from Home Depot so I can spread out with my drawing and painting supplies, which I dabble in when the spirit moves me. I set it up in the dormitory room upstairs where I can sit on the window bench and have the light from behind me shine on my easel. It’s my favorite room in the house, a once upon a time space, where all the grandchildren have slept through the years. I think I’ll like going up there in the deep dark days of winter, a little retreat for myself. I’m doing my best to Be Ready.
You Reading this, Be Ready, by William Stafford
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?