Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Are Here

It's been a  l o n g  hug from summah, though it's officially autumn now. Or awesome (au-sum). Whatever you want to call it. There's no fence between seasons. Autumn's kids queued up for summer's frozen custard. Summer's kids have the run of autumn's apple orchard. So Fall goes about its business regardless of the heat and humidity. Bringing forth the asters and goldenrod and the tote bags full of Macintosh apples. Coloring and uncoloring leaves, puffing up the milkweed pods. Mixing up Back-to-school and Halloween. Letting crickets B crickets B crickets B crickets B crickets B crickets B crickets.  

And the sky says You Are Here. 

I saw it the other day as a map. It's other things, too: a circus, an ocean, a ceiling, a port. But from outer space it's the map the planet wears of white swirls and contrails over the undermap of blues and browns and moss-greens. That's the same map we're looking up at, only ours is the local version, bound by local horizons, a few miles across. And wouldn't it be interesting if we could open a map like this, like something out of Harry Potter, showing clouds and air currents in ceaseless motion, revealing and concealing our whereabouts? But it would be unnecessary. Looking up, we know that here and now is beneath the sky directly overhead, and that varying degrees of then and thereness stretch to the horizon, which is that edge of the world people once feared as the border of Never. Now we know it's just the border of Not Yet and Eventually. Which may be why horizon clouds sometimes make me feel a little uneasy, because they're experiencing some time behind or some time ahead, a distant conversation I can't hear. (I really don't know clouds at all.)

This has nothing to do with the Red Sox. Or maybe it does. At some point tonight we will be directly under the outcome of their last regular-season baseball game, and it will bring many of us joy or consternation or an extension of anxiety for one more day. I cannot ride the cloud that already knows the answer. So I will ride the planet and wait for it to be the current current overhead. But I hope to hell they win and the Rays don't.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hug from Summah

I think summer's packing her bags (her tea bags! the bags under her eyes!). Seriously. Today felt like a too-effusive embrace, didn't it? Highs well into the 80s. A tad untimely, no? And the rest of the week, down to the sixties, maybe low seventies. That says farewell hug to me. Passionate, but maybe wasted on an autumn guy like meself. On the other hand, I should say thanks for the cherries and nectarines and blueberries in season for weeks on end. And the watermelon and the sweet corn. And the ocean. And the ice. But not the sweat, the mosquitoes, the melting butter, the sticking door, the reluctant gel capsules. The let-me-show-you-my-coin-collection, mouth-breathing, foggy-glasses yewmidity. Shan't miss that, miss Honeysuckle Rose.

I say give me a reason to wear a sweater and these big high-top slippers I just got from Lands End for 9.99. Put me in the catalog with the other dudes in the wool tartan plaid shirts and the wide-wale corduroys. I'll go wandering off in some wet meadow instead of posing with the Irish setter, and come back with my cuffs wet and a dozen cockleburs on my sleeves. And I'll lead a mutiny of the models to throw off their veneers and look and act like real people, but it will be quelled by a silver-haired dad model with the testosterone of a teenager, curse my luck. And no one will ever know about the brief rebellion that took place between pages 78 and 81. Needless to say, I was not asked back to the Lands End catalog.

Just as well. I have already begun buying pumpkin muffins at Dunkin Donuts and half-peck bags of apples at Stop and Shop, and today I lingered over the Halloween cards at Walgreen's. And I am definitely thinking about kettles of broad-winged hawks migrating over the summits of Mt. Watatic and Mt. Wachusett. (Gesundheit.) I say, be seasonable.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lee's Lees

A hurrricane named Lee is a hurricane you can almost have a cup of coffee with, but not without your guard up. It's a mysterious name, Lee, not telling all it knows.  Simple-seeming: one consonant, one vowel, one syllable. But elusive. Could be male or female. Could be Lee Marvin, Lee Remick, or Lee Harvey Oswald. Could be Robert E. Lee or Pinky Lee. It's another ironic name for a hurricane, following Irene, which means "peace."  A lee is "a place sheltered from the wind."

Unlike Irene, we are in the lees of Lee, the dregs, which is making for a wet week. A rainy, gray September is not much different from any other wet, gray, rainy month. It discourages uplift. It has the weary sound of windshield wipers on intermittent just as you realize there's not enough drizzle to cover its complaining sigh. Today's continuation of yesterday's rain began with the unwelcome but fitting sight of a few hundred little maggots making their blind way over and up and down the garbage container, which I'd put out for the trash collectors the night before--larvae-free, as far as I knew. I hosed it down, grimly and, to passing cars, redundantly, except the hose was way more effective as a vermicide than the drizzle.

The Sandpiper

On Thursday the last wet heavy downpour, amid which I drive my son to school, joining a long line of cars queued up in the AHS turnaround, off-loading kids to be educated by strangers on another first day of school -- or the year.

Back home, I finish Zeitoun while the rain thuds down like an old vendetta. Then just a grudge. Then it lets up, which is too bad because now it's merely wet outside and the sky is white and tight as a short-sheeted bed with the annoying schuss of cars and trucks going to unknown places.

Eventually I go outside to put a Netflix in the mailbox (the red envelope now as common and telling as the YOU-GOT-A-TICKET! orange of a traffic citation), and mosey down to Spy Pond, where I see piles of clouds massed and milling like a demobbed army waiting for a new war. This one, Lee, is over.

The Canada geese are avidly grazing, yanking up grass in their black bills like it's going out of style. I frown on this despoiling of the lawn, but I'm not willing to make like a dog and yap them into the water. Then I see with pleasure another bird on the periphery of the herd. It's a spotted sandpiper. I've seen it here before, again in company with the geese. It picks its way along the shore, flies briefly to a rock, where it teeters, as they do, then flies back and resumes its foraging. It's not tiny, maybe seven inches long, but among the grazing geese it's like a mouse, a mascot, one of those symbiotic little opportunists that hang around big animals in a fable-like way. The geese don't seem to mind, but it's not exactly underfoot either.

The moral may be: Birds of a different feather flock together in the lee of the weather.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gold and Spices

A new month. And in the case of September, you need to go out (on a daily basis) and take auspices. Which means, in a sense, taking Au (gold) and spices. It's an amazing progress, dismaying to summer folk, perhaps, but summer on the way out is as auspicious as summer was on the way in, way back in June. Gilded now, mature, experienced, narrated by the threnody (time for that word again) of crickets. The early lapping-in of evening on the tideline of the afternoon. September plays a flute. The tune it plays? Well, to find out you need to go out and take gold and spices.