When Fall turns to Winter

Bean & Bantam all rights reservedIn Vermont, the leaves in autumn flare with color and light, like a lit match that burns out too soon; intense and brief, confined to the months of September and October. During my early morning coffee, the sunlight comes through the windows and finds me on the couch, blinking at the unexpected slant of light, sunlight’s lower angle at this time of day so much lower than in summertime.

On the drive to work, fields of corn grown for silage lose their green color in October, the standing stalks are wheat colored, and field by field they are harvested by choppers and dump trucks, driven to farm bunkers and packed down to ferment for feeding cows.  The chopper drives through the fields, closely attended by dump trucks to catch the silage as it is chopped and poured from a chute on the chopper.  Driving through our valley, with corn fields on either side, and then wooded mountains, we share the road with farm trucks loaded up with silage, speeding from farm bunkers to the fields and back, the wind swirling bits off of the truck loads, a swirl of gold through the air like the farm version of fairy dust (or dairy farm dust).

Birds whirl in flocks, across the road and across the fields, flying in loops and waves, a flying drift somehow in formation and never crashing.   The wind helps the leaves from the trees, pushes single leaves in lonely flutters across the roads and fields, they accumulate in drifts when they meet an obstacle.  Geese fly overhead, past smoky gray tree branches silhouetted dark against the sky, their movement towards the closing of the year.

Leaves and flocks and melancholy as the year comes to a close; I’m reminded of a long-ago visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, where in the dim halls along the open courtyard on the second floor are glass-topped wooden cases, and the glass is covered by screening fabric easily moved aside to peer below within the case at an extensive collection of handwritten letters, preserved thoughts, ancient signatures, famous names.  Like leaves gathered and pinned, written and collected from a flock of writers now deceased, brilliant plumage now only preserved in cursive and spidery script, screened and shaded behind glass, hard to decipher, but a thread to the past and into thoughts and lives once lived. Continue reading “When Fall turns to Winter”

Preserving August in Vermont

Going through the garden, about ten days ago... these are the cucumbers, the pumpkins, the sunflowers, and a straggly watermelon or two...

August is a symphony.  At night, the crickets being to chirp and to sing in our garage, drawing closer to home, seeking shelter for the cold days ahead.  Crickets slide the top of one wing on the underside of another to make their chirping noise, one edge of wing gliding on another like a bow on a string instrument.  Their noise in the garage is a reminder that fall is near.  Each August, I take up knitting again, and in the evenings the metal click of the needles and the yarn mark time, one needle against another, the crickets and their noise just outside, the wool slipping over metal needles under lamp-light, the darkness ahead settling down.

This is high summer, but the night falls earlier each day, and the prospect of winter is steady and sure.  I want to hold on to these bright hot days, I want to tuck away the feeling of pulling beans, and twisting off ripe tomatoes, the heat and humidity, collect the heat and the symphony of sound and color, preserve this feeling of high summer and save it for the darker days ahead, the cold of winter when summer heat seems so far away.

Early ripe apples, the ones that fall off the tree and must be sorted carefully, the unmarked ones gathered. I turn these into dried apple rings..

Outside, in the August late afternoons, under the apple trees, you can hear the soft “plonk” of early apples falling ripe from the trees.  I gather up the unmarked apples, Continue reading “Preserving August in Vermont”