Welcoming September

autumn forest near calm clear pond
Photo by Mat Reding on Pexels.com

After an interminable string of hot, humid days, the weather gently cracked Monday night. Off and on showers and light silvery storms popped up yesterday to open the first day of meteorological autumn.

Astronomical autumn doesn’t start until the 21st or 22nd. That’s fine. My head and heart have already switched into fall mode way ahead of the curve. The transition starts when the very first faint tinges of gold and scarlet rim the edges of the leaves and the acorns begin to drop. Then a bare handful of leaves in full fall colors drift to the ground on the soft wind. Next come the geese honking their way into flocks, just a couple here and there, gradually  increasing in numbers as they find their places in the V-shaped formation gliding across the sky.

And then noticing that the lights need to go on earlier, and a little earlier the next night, and stay on a little later the next morning.

As the days grow shorter, this not-so-young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of comfort food. Two recipes I want to try this fall are risotto–I’ve never made it but have wanted to do so–and  two new soups. One is Finnish salmon soup which kind of resembles chowder; the other is plokkfisker, a potato and fish dish from Iceland that looks like chowder on steroids. I will report on the results.

Books are a necessity any time of year, but more so in the months where a person needs to gather by the hearth. I started rereading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley over the weekend. Ms. Bradley retold the Arthurian legends from the point of view of the female characters.  It weighs in at over 700 pages and a couple of pounds, but worth the time and (physical) effort. In addition, I have a couple of cookbooks requested for my birthday next month, Mimi Thorrisson’s newest, Old World Italian, and The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson. I’ll review them after I play with them.

In the mean time, there are preparations to be made. Blankets? Check. Go through the pantry and freezer to inventory what we have and what we need? Check. Get outside and enjoy it while we can before the really cold weather sets in? Check.

Bring it. I’m ready.

 

 

Lurching Towards Normal in 3/4 Time

group of people dancing together
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Thank you for your understanding about my absence the last few weeks. We are still in the process of picking up pieces, reassembling them, and carrying on in the wake of saying “see you later” to Hubby’s family members.

His brother in law finally let go of this world and slipped into the next two weeks ago this coming Monday. BIL’s passage came almost six weeks to the day after Hubby’s sister made hers. Hubby went to the well-attended funeral. The officiant and the attendees all had kind words about BIL. He and Hubby’s Eldest Sister had owned a couple of pharmacies. They had done well for themselves, and supported an organization helping refugees settle into their new homes. And he had filled prescriptions for free so no customer had to make the Hobson’s choice between food or medicine.

And then Hubby found out that another sister (he has/had three older sisters) has cancer.    She just started treatment, so we don’t know how this will play out.

After we finished that call, Oakley and I went outside for his bedtime potty run. I looked up at the sky and snapped “REALLY?!?!” at any forces, spirits, deities who were listening.

We are not alone in the tsunami of loss this fall. The passings of humans and pets; changes in circumstances; and news of one close friend’s husband entering the last stage of Parkinson’s show up in my social media feeds, emails, and texts. At times giving updates on conditions and passing on the word about transitions has left me feeling as Walter Cronkite must have when he read the casualty counts on CBS’ evening news during the Vietnam era.

Surviving these times involves focus on the tasks directly in front of us. Hubby came home and went back to work on his assignments for class. I walked Oakley a lot and made sure Hubby had reasonably healthy food to eat. We do talk about memories of the dear departed; he finds comfort in his religion.

And we stay on the routine, the rough schedules giving structure and meaning to the day.

The raw, tender edges of the gaps torn by their absences will scab over and heal in time. Yes, there will still be the openings that will never quite close again.

But we lurch around them and go on.

 

 

 

 

 

Life. Death. Rebirth. Reconnect. Rinse. Repeat.

Despite the spitting rain, yesterday was a fine day, indeed. Through the magic of social media, I reconnected with one of my close friends from grad school. Over tacos, we spent about ten minutes discussing where we had been and what we’d been doing since the last time we’d seen each other, about 20 years ago. And then we just picked up where we’d left off as if no time had elapsed, discussing more contemporary subjects such as Oakley, her cats, the next generation of relatives, current events and so on. We will do lunch again very soon.

Counter to that, also through the auspices of social media, I was able to get back in touch with another friend of ours from grad school. A few PMs on FaceBook brought us up to speed with one another a few months ago. The bad news is that tomorrow she lays her wife of five years to rest. I never had the privilege of meeting my friend’s wife, but she leaves a legacy of love,  service to children, and a deep commitment to social justice. The card that inadequately expresses my thoughts goes out this afternoon. Somehow, writing F*** CANCER in red ink next to “thinking of you–wishing you peace and strength now and in the days to come ” seems a bit jarring. But were I to share with her with the level of honesty that we shared in the heady days fueled by idealism and bad coffee from the  student center, that’s what I would write.

With age come a few nods to social convention, so I will err on the side of refinement.

Good manners aside, in this season of preparation for winter repose when everything turns brown and the greens that cling to plants seem dull, there’s some sense of rebirth. At least I’m sensing it. The political wreckage of the last year revealed that some 60% (depending on the poll you believe) thinks the White House freak show needs to come to an end yesterday. I take heart from the stories about marches, people using their voices, and small acts of kindness and beauty.

I’ve found myself getting back into the groove of calling officials and choosing to work to get the current congress critter out–he has done less than nothing for anyone who is not a contributor to his campaign. I will do the same for next year’s gubernatorial election. Some feel that we need to ride out this cycle and not let our hearts be too troubled by it. It troubles my heart to sit and do nothing. If a few phone calls and reposts can speed up the cycle, it’s not a bad thing.

The trick is to see dormancy as a phase, but not to stay there.

 

 

“Tell Me, What Is It You Plan To Do With Your One Wild and Precious Life?”

 

Today’s title from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day.” Today’s image courtesy Old Design Shop.

The last week or so here in the soybean field unfolded fairly uneventfully. November arrived yesterday clad in grey with touches of orange and yellow. The contrast of the leaves and the sky made me gasp a couple of times for the sheer beauty of it as I drove home from the suburb within shouting distance of the big city.

Let me back up. I went to a funeral yesterday. The stepmother and -in-law of two of my close friends took advantage of the veil between the worlds thinning to slip into her next life over the weekend. No preventable disease; no tragic end. Just the sadness that comes when it’s time to let go of a loved one. She was a well-lived 94, and until she became unsteady on her feet a few years ago, she volunteered at the People’s Resource Center in Wheaton, IL (providing food, clothes, and job skills training to residents of the county since sometime in the ’60’s).

As funerals go, it wasn’t bad at all. The pastor had spoken extensively with the family members who arranged it. He used the stories they told to paint a portrait of a woman who lived well, loved her family, and served others. At the points where prayers and blessings were inserted, he acknowledged that not everyone walked his path, and it was OK if you didn’t say the words with the rest of the gathered. The service lasted a scant half an hour. At its conclusion, we made one last walk past the urn containing her ashes. I placed my hand on it, wished her a safe journey.

Afterwards, another of our mutual friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while invited me out for coffee. We invested in an hour of laughs and news, then parted with hugs and a promise of lunch soon.

I picked my way through midday traffic. The quote from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” began running through my mind. So did the question of where have I been relative to my own life the last five years or so.

I know the answer, but out of respect for the privacy of others, I can’t go into it, but I will tell you that it has drained my psyche rather than filling my soul. I thank you for your understanding.

Even in the fading light of the year,  it’s time to get back to my own life, to the things that keep my heart beating: writing, activism when I can, the environment as best I can, and history. And my friends. It’s tough when they live an hour and upwards away. I will just have to make more of an effort, though, for my own good.

So, as the leaves fall in the swirling wind, I begin again.