Posted tagged ‘falling leaves’

“Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.”

October 2, 2017

I’m getting used to these beautiful fall days. Earlier, the morning was crispy and chilly, but the bright sun has dispelled the chill. The sky is a deep blue. A breeze shakes the branches, and more leaves keep falling, mostly oak leaves. I was excited and surprised to see newly bloomed flowers in my front garden. The flowers are purple, and that’s all I know about them. Now,hite and purple flowers are blooming in the front beds. It as if the garden is giving me its last gifts before the end of fall, before the coming winter.

I slept the whole night last night. The phone woke me at 8:15. It was a robo-call which I didn’t answer. Ten minutes later there was another call, but this one I answered. I knew the caller. Gracie then joined me on the couch, and we both went back to sleep.  The phone woke me again, and I cursed until I saw the time. It was late morning, close to ten. I answered the call then got up and began my morning rituals.

I am getting braced for the coldest times of year, for winter. In Ghana this time of year I braced for the dry season, for the total lack of rain for at least 5 months. I knew intense heat was coming with days hot enough to melt my unlit candle, but I also knew a reprieve was coming. The nights would start to get chilly, not New England chilly but chilly by comparison with the days. The temperature dropped over 30˚ every night. My bedroom had two rows of louvered windows; one row was the whole length of the wall beside my bed while the other was a single louvered window on the end wall next to the armoire. I’d leave the windows opened. It got cold, but feeling cold was glorious. I’d snuggle under the wool blanket I kept on my bed. I still have that blanket and keep it folded over the back of my couch. It brings smile from all the memories. It is also pretty itchy. I guess I forgot that part.

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“Suddenly, the wind got hold of the hammock. Leaves murmured. It was cold and the sun had gone down.”

September 1, 2017

September has arrived far too quickly. The summer sped so fast I swear my body, especially my face, was contorted by the G-force acceleration. Today is even autumnal weather with temperatures in the high 60’s. Tonight will be even colder, the high 40’s, sweatshirt by day and warm blanket weather by night. The day is really pretty with a clear blue sky and lots of sun. The breeze is brisk so the trees and leaves are swaying. I filled the bird feeders yesterday, but I noticed they are only half full already. I have more seed in the trunk so I’ll fill the feeders again later.

My mother had a small flower garden on the side of her house beneath some kitchen windows. She had bird feeders among the flowers including a statue of St. Francis with his arm extended and his palm up so it could seed. She put a wire fence across the entrance of that garden to keep my dog Maggie away, but it seldom worked. She always found a way inside. I swear Maggie did it just to drive my mother crazy. I used to have to retrieve her and reset the fence. A while later, though, Maggie was back in the garden, and I was retrieving her again. It was a game she always played but only when the flowers were in bloom.

I always call this coming season fall rather than autumn. If I lived on a farm, I guess I’d call it the harvest season. When I was a kid, I figured it was called fall because of all the leaves falling off the trees. The sidewalks and the gutters were always covered or filled with leaves. I’d walk in the gutters on my way to school and kick the leaves all over. They’d mostly land in the street strewn about like a trail you could follow all the way from my house to school.

Fall eases us into winter. It’s a shoulder season. We have warm days then cold days hinting of winter. I open my windows during the day and close then at night. The house holds the night cold in the mornings now. The backyard is shadowed so it is chilly when I first take Gracie out. I beg her to hurry so we both can go back inside, me for coffee and warmth and her for breakfast. Today she didn’t linger.

“Air, I should explain, becomes wind when it is agitated.”

November 15, 2016

Today I am accomplished. The first load of laundry is in the washer. I finally got tired of walking around the overflowing laundry bags in the hall.

The wind is blowing. When I look out the windows, I see brown leaves falling almost as frequently as snow falls. The weather feels chilly because it is damp. Rain is predicted for today, and the cloudy sky makes it probable. It is getting darker.

Maddie howled again last night. It is from loneliness. When Gracie and I slept downstairs, she slept the whole night. I feel so bad for her and wish she would join Gracie and me upstairs. She knows Gracie won’t chase her as she stands on the couch beside the sleeping dog when she wants to be patted. Gracie doesn’t even notice.

When I was a kid, I never got all that excited about Thanksgiving. There was no countdown like for Christmas. It sort of it just arrived. In school, we colored turkeys and wrote down why were thankful. I always said my mother and father. I was probably thankful for them, but I was even more thankful for knowing what to write down. The short school week was also a blessing but not one I mentioned.

Even though every week was the same when I was a kid, except for holidays, of course,  I never really tired of the day to day. I ate the same breakfast every morning unless it was so cold my mother felt the need to make oatmeal to insulate us for the walk to school. We walked the same route to school every day. It didn’t take us long, maybe 20 minutes or so. On cold days we walked a whole lot faster both to keep warm and to get to school sooner.

I remember walking backward against the wind on days like today. My clothes would sometimes billow, especially my skirt. Every now and then I did need peeks to make sure I was walking straight on the sidewalk and to know to face the front when I reached the curb to cross.

I need the lamp lit to keep the darkness away. It was the same when I was a kid. I was never afraid of the dark, but it wasn’t good for reading, my favorite pastime when I couldn’t go out to play after school. I remember lying in bed, comfy and cozy, with the lamp lit behind and above me and an open book in my hands. It felt perfect, almost like paradise.

“Tradition is a fine thing. Nothing comes out of the blue, except perhaps thunderbolts and they are not really very useful things.”

November 6, 2016

Today is dark and rainy. The street is now covered with wet leaves and pine needles. They’ll dry then be blown away. My lawn too is covered in brown pine needles and has mostly disappeared. Every small breeze drops yellow oak leaves to the deck. I can watch them fall from the window. My den light is lit giving the room a cozy feel. Gracie and Maddie are asleep. I love mornings like this.

This week I have a meeting on Tuesday, and that is the only entry on my dance card. The rest of the week is wide open. I have some stuff I could do like go through the Christmas presents piled on a guest room bed and catalogue them by person so I can know what I still need to buy. I love to find just the right gifts for people, and it takes a bit of shopping to do that, and Christmas isn’t really all that far away. I did some Christmas shopping in Ghana, and I’m glad for that as the gifts will be unique. I bought yards and yards of traditional Ghanaian GTP cloth to be used to make presents. Now I wish I’d even bought more.

Some gifts have become part of the Christmas tradition. I give everyone a bag filled with smaller gifts including a new ornament with some sort of a personal touch like a fish for my brother-in-law the fly fisherman. The kids also get Christmas books. I give all the women earrings or some sort of jewelry. This year the jewelry is from Ghana. I buy soap for every bag like lobsters or starfish. I also try to find fun gifts. I bought an old fishing drop line for my nephew, a gift of memory for him. There are bigger gifts for the kids. The younger boys get Hess trucks. They are on the way. My only grandniece is getting a doll and a dress from Ghana. My nieces and nephews get gift certificates stuffed into their gift bags, something I started doing when they got into their 20’s and finding just the right gift got too difficult. They love the small gifts and opening the bags is always done on Christmas Eve. It is the tradition, and my family is big on Christmas tradition.

“Never complete. Never whole. White skin and an African soul.”

November 4, 2016

If I pulled out that dusty old dictionary of mine and looked up autumn, I’d find it is a noun defined as,”the third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves fall, in the northern hemisphere from September to November and in the southern hemisphere from March to May.” The words in the definition just aren’t enough. What about autumn’s almost indefinable beauty? What about autumn’s colors, its cool, sometimes cold nights, and its warmer mornings? What about a perfect autumn day? Well, I’ve got that one covered: today is the perfect autumn day. The sun is bright. The sky is deep blue but has a few wispy clouds for contrast. The air is warm, long sleeve shirt warm. A slight breeze is enough to drop the brown leaves off the boughs of the oak trees. They slowly flutter to the ground as if they know their time is done. Today is a day to be out and about.

I met two former students the other day. We did the pleasantries and caught up with one another. I met one’s baby and another’s nine year old. They asked what I was doing to stay busy. I described my life as a sloth and I mentioned traveling. They wanted to know where. “Africa,” I told them. “Wow,” was the response from each of them and both mentioned how exciting Africa must have been. I told them about the elephants. Seeing those elephants was nothing short of amazing for me, and they thought seeing elephants had to be the coolest thing.

Those conversations got me thinking. Elephants and game parks aside, going back to Ghana is almost commonplace for me. Were I to go to Mali or Botswana, I would think of each as an unbelievable trip to Africa. Ghana is going home. It is familiar again. I get to see my former students, and we are at ease with each other, the sort of ease which comes from years of friendship. I am not surprised by what I see. The rooster wakes me up, but I can always go back to sleep. I enjoy goat and Guinea fowl as much as beef or chicken. I know Ghanaian food is spicy hot and best eaten with my hand. I am adept at noticing and walking over deposits left by goats and sheep on the streets, the walkways and in the market. All the smells are Ghana to me. Ghanaians smile at me, and I smile back. I even greet them in Hausa and a bit of FraFra.

Though Bolgatanga is bigger and far busier, I just think of it as home. It being in Africa is merely serendipitous.

“When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, ‘Ours.'”

October 12, 2015

Today is the best sort of a fall day. The sun is shining, it’s warm and the clear blue sky goes on forever. The leaves have started changing, and with the help of the wind, some have already fallen. My front lawn has touches of red lying on the grass blown from the trees along the driveway. Clumps of pine needles with chewed ends are strewn on the grass and the driveway. The spawns chew the clumps off the branches, drink the sap then toss the leftovers. I don’t ever remember seeing as many clumps.

Columbus Day meant the day off from school, but it was always the 12th, never a convenient Monday. Today is just happenstance. Schools, banks, town and federal offices including the post office are all closed.

I don’t know how to celebrate Columbus Day. All the other holidays are easy, each has a token, a symbol. Some even have traditional foods. I suppose we could eat Italian food in honor of Columbus having been a citizen of Genoa or considering he never really made it to the New World, we could eat Caribbean food, the closest he got. We could wear one of those silly hats he’s always pictured wearing. As for decorations, miniature ships with crosses on their sails could be on the Columbus Day table. That’s all I’ve got.

Now we come to the controversy as to whether or not we should celebrate Columbus, by most accounts a slaver guilty of genocide. He wiped out entire populations of indigenous people. He didn’t even find America, his one claim to fame. Protests against Chris are held every Columbus Day. In some places the day has been renamed Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Only 23 states still have the day as a holiday from work.

I used to like a day off in October. In truth, I didn’t care the reason.

I agree that Chris doesn’t deserve a whole day in his name. He really didn’t do anything worth recognition. Quite the opposite is true so I think it’s time to stop honoring him. We need to rethink the day.

“I like the way my own feet smell. I love to smell my sneakers when I take them off.”

October 28, 2013

Today is another lovely fall day with lots of sunshine and a pale blue sky. It got cold last night and was 38˚ by the time I went to bed around 2 am. I watched the Red Sox-Cardinals game which didn’t end until late, and when that happens, I am seldom tired enough for bed. The ending of that game was another strange one: a pick-off at first. Who is foolish enough to get picked off at the bottom of the ninth with two outs, your team losing, but Beltrane at bat? Why a rookie, of course, is the answer. The series is now tied 2-2 with a game tonight in St. Louis then a return to Boston. This series is killing me with its late nights, close games and weird calls.

This morning I stood by the window while the coffee was brewing. I watched dead leaves fall off the big oak tree onto the deck. It was sort of sad in a way. Those leaves had hidden my deck from the neighbors all summer. When I was sitting there, I felt as if I were in a tree house surrounded by green leaves and full boughs. Now I can see almost all the way down to the end of the street from my deck. My friend Clare will soon enough be able to see my den window and know when I’m still awake late at night. The light shines brightly.

When I was in the seventh and eighth grade, I played CYO basketball. That was in the days of weird girls’ basketball rules. I was a guard, and I could only stay on one half of the court. I could bounce the basketball three times but then I had to pass it. Only the forwards could score. I had one trick in my arsenal, and that was I could throw the ball full court. One forward would stay by our basket hoping not to be noticed, and when I got the ball, it went to her and she always scored. That was usually good for a few baskets before the other team guarded her and kept her from the basket. Our coach was a former marine, a former female marine, and she was tough. She didn’t have a warm, fuzzy bone in her body. Every instruction sounded like a command, and we obeyed. In practice, she had a mean whistle which she’d blow then she’d point at the offender. My greatest wish was always that she was pointing at someone else. She made us wear high top sneakers which only came in black back then. I remember there was a circle on the outside of each sneaker and inside the circle was the word Converse. We were always the only team with high tops. All the others had white sneakers, girly white sneakers with pointed toes. We didn’t really care when playing basketball, but we never wore those sneakers anywhere else. They were, after all, boys’ sneakers.

Many, many years later colorful high top sneakers with Converse in the circle on the side became a rage. I bought a pair in bright pink and another pair in purple. Those sneakers had stopped being boys’ sneakers. They had become an element of style. When I organized my closet a while back, I found those sneakers, both pairs. I still think they are really cool. I’m partial to the pink.