24 September, 2014

Fall Fell

This from the archives of my hard drive.  Written in 1997.

This past weekend brought Fall to a climax here.  The maples, sumac, and beechnut trees were glorious in their brilliant colors.  The air was cool and crisp to breathe, like a polar bear swim for the lungs -- shockingly cold, yet tantalizing.  On my way home from church yesterday, the sky was deep blue. Together with the Fall foliage and the deep green evergreens, it was wonderful.   A colorful picture using every hue on the palette.

I made another batch of grape jam from my dwindling stores of frozen pulp.  The house is more comfortable when the air is filled with the smell of something cooking.  My mind goes back to the smell of Mom making stew or goulash and it feels like home.  The grape pulp simmered its scent throughout the downstairs as it reduced down to just the 6 cups I needed for jam. When the pectin and sugar had been added, and the hot jam ladled into waiting jars, I spread the scrapings from the kettle onto some warm toast.  It's a good batch of jam, deep purple and sweet.

As Andrew and I walked late in the day,  the clouds on the horizon created a new palette of color as the sun settled in behind it.  The sunset's colors clashed with the colors of the trees.  We couldn't believe how many squirrels there were -- everywhere they were gathering acorns, beechnuts, black walnuts, and even pampas grass seeds.  Their cheeks were swollen with their harvests, and they scurried around digging holes to bury their treasures.   Andrew noticed the geese first.  He heard them coming.  They visit every year about this time in the park next to the house.  There's never more than 12. Their calls resemble the faded off-key melody of the ice cream vendor's truck in the height of a humid summer's day.  When the geese landed in the field, they circled around one another as if counting noses.  They made themselves at home on the carpet of grass and settled in for the night calling to one another like feathered Waltons on Walton Mountain.  Good night John-boy. Good night 'Lizabeth....

Night fall brought the cold rain. In the last light, the leaves began to flurry toward the ground with the added weight of the rain.  And the north wind bustled them along toward the ground.  As the street lights fragmented the darkness, the leaves, just hours ago a sight to behold, flew about the street and sidewalks, scattered and torn, no longer the palette of color. Like the snow that is to come, they are blown and gathered into drifts and piles that will have to be moved.

As the clock turned over to a new day and I wandered toward bed, the moon began to peek through the clouds, showing the faded glory of the foliage strewn like rags about the neighborhood.  The trees, still clinging to the last vestiges of their wardrobe, are notably more exposed, almost quivering in the night air.  Under the moon's dim glow, the geese in the field look like lumps of cold earthen clay;  they'll be gone with the first glimmer of morning light. Gone to their warm winter home, leaving behind the barren trees and drifting snow.

This morning the sky is cloudy.  The trees stand with carpets of faded color at their feet.  And the park field is empty.

Fall fell.