The evenings are cool and crisp, as are these October mornings but the days warm to pleasant sweatshirt weather or perhaps just a light shirt. As I walk the two blocks to Rick's, or longer as I head to the ditch, I find myself making more noise as my feet turn up the first of the fallen leaves, dried, curling up at the edges, waiting to be swept away by those doing their best to tend the lawn and sidewalks before things get completely out of hand.
I can hardly keep the bird feeders full. Whether they are stocking up for winter or simply bulking up to keep themselves warm on the cool evenings, I do not know. I know only that they are ever-present, always lending cheerful chirping and intriguing Lizzie.
I have discovered recently that she'll take her birds any way she can get them, including on the computer screen. A few youtube bird videos have her entranced, often stepping onto the keyboard to get a closer look -- or sniff. I have to smile when she does this, her alert eyes, ears perked up to the sound, the tilt of the head. She lives her life for the very moment.
I wonder if she processes that these are unattainable things, yet things in which she can become involved, appreciate, even become entranced. After all, we humans can do that and we do it every day. When we were children we had fantasies of becoming a princess or movie star. For some those wishes came true. But I think we still have a fantasy or two now and then -- being the author who is doing the book signing for their best seller, the photographer who is heralded for remarkable work, the philanthropist whose gifts can help change the world. I'll watch "Dancing with the Stars" and see myself doing outrageously fabulous dancing in high heels and feathers with a live orchestra and my own private instructor. Well, that's not going to happen. Maybe that's my human version of the bird videos.
Although we're already into the second half of October, it feels more like the beginning. Perhaps that is because where I am, in Michigan's "middle of the mitten," the color is slow to come, only now beginning to show the flaming oranges, deep reds and golden ambers I associate with fall. As I look out my window this very moment, I see deep green leaves on all the trees. Soon the ginko will turn pale yellow, the locust a darker gold and that bank of trees dividing my yard from a neighbor's will fall to the ground, leaving the yard open, more exposed. I frame my camera carefully to catch the best color at the Ditch, but truth be told, the leaves on other side are still pretty green.
Is it possible that in a month or two or three I will be looking at a white world out there, layering on extra sweaters and wishing once again for spring to come? Oh yes, it is possible.
The past couple of weeks have been a little tough, a little gloomy. A friend died and it seemed like few besides Rick and I cared. I know that everyone grieves in their own way and I try to hold that in my heart, but it wasn't just the death but the last months of life that found us both feeling she was somewhat neglected by those who should most have cared.
Were we right? Who is to say? It know how hard to watch someone you love fail, I know the grieving begins long before the death. I know that it is easier for friends like us who are less involved emotionally to judge, try as we might not to do just that. Friends, who will miss the person but do not have the lifelong memory bank to draw upon memories good and bad. Granted, our friend was older, ill for a very long time and in pain. But she deserved better. As much as I would never say to anyone grieving "She is in a better place now," for once, that seems very true. I like to think of her as wrapped in love and peace.
This month has also been challenging as my lung illness has reared its ugly head again, wearing me down. I huddle in a quilt or fuzzy throw, then toss it off. Hot, cold, hot, cold. It's not menopause. That boat sailed a long time ago. It's just life. A part of my "normal" that I had completely forgotten about. I find myself longing to hunker down, be cozy. Drink tea. Savor a wonderful scone. Read books. Pet Lizzie.
But I know the holidays approach and with them, my busy season. An early deadline for our annual sale finds me needing to beef up inventory with no energy to do so. I did get my notecards ordered -- singles and sets of blank thank you note-sized cards from some of my favorite photos and paintings. Here are a few.
I anticipate an array of upcoming events -- my first Southern
Exposure workshop of the season, a fall fundraiser for our theatre.
several lunches with friends, a trip to the Detroit area to see Kevin
and Molly and go to the Detroit Symphony. Ah, there's the shiny spot. That trip would be fun no matter what. But Kevin and Molly are expecting their first child in February -- a little boy. Now that gives me something to anticipate in the all-too-long winter!
And the other shiny bit? The end of summer bounty of color. Oh, not just the leaves, but the flowers on their last hurrah, looking as bold and bright as possible, almost as though they are expecting competition from the trees and dressing accordingly. My neighbor's garden, so beautiful from first flower to first snow is ablaze with color and even the mums I bought at the market lend their own cheer to the gloomiest of days.
It's a Sunday afternoon as I finish the first draft of this post. Rick will soon return from his bike hike, possibly the last of the season. It's been rainy all day and he'll appreciate loading up on carbs with the wonderful pasta I'll begin making shortly. The kitchen will be filled with the fragrances of garlic and oregano, caramelized onions and maybe something wonderful for dessert.
We walk a path in life, sometimes of our making, sometimes not. We round the corner at the ditch and hope to see Harry the Heron. But we may see Ella the Egret instead. If we're wise, we will pause and decide if it is a good thing (it is), a bad thing, or nothing at all and move forward accordingly. Catching our breath, holding tight to the things that we value most and looking for the best way find our own happy ending.
Three more weeks till election day. I can hardly wait.
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