We are several days into November, but today’s weather–a sharp downturn in the temperatures, a forecast of heavy rain and possibly even (gulp!) some snow, makes it feel as if November is finally really here. We’ve had day after day of glittering sunshine, which makes the golden leaves hanging from the cottonwood trees look like yellow bits of sunshine.
Are we ready for winter? Not really.
Are we ever ready for winter? Um, not really. Not entirely.
Amalia and I have been pulling down the tomato cages in the garden, making accessible the hundreds of leftover currant tomatoes to the chickens, giddy things, who charge into the garden as if on a life-saving mission, grabbing and scuttling off to enjoy their purloined treats in peace. The tomatoes are tiny and hang on the cages like glowing rubies. The garden is not plowed yet, and the yard and our paths have not had their final fall mowing yet, because of a busted mower belt, which hasn’t yet been replaced. Always we leave a few things undone, some years worse than others. Sigh. I wanted to get the garage really clean. And throw out some junk from the shed. Oh well. Winter, clearly, is not going to wait for us this year.
Last weekend, we had finally caught up on processing our firewood, and had finally gotten a nice pile of split wood stored in the shed, but the nice tree cutter who occasionally dumps a load of logs at our place just brought us a new load of some silver maple logs a few days ago. It wasn’t a dead tree, the proof being the blanket of yellow leaves that slid out of the truck and covered the logs, so it’ll take a bit of time for it to dry out enough to burn in our wood stove, even after we cut and split it all up. Amalia had just made a batch of chewy oatmeal and chocolate chip bars that day, and I climbed up on the truck’s step and handed a plate of them in to the two guys in the truck. They grinned like little boys. Those bars were well worth grinning over, I can tell you!
I was a bit sad to see them go (the oatmeal bars, not the guys), they were so rich and chewy (the bars, not the guys), but perhaps I can coax my daughter to make another pan of them today. I fear for our cookie-eating selves, once Amalia has left home, since she has taken over this very grave responsibility upon herself, and excels at it, too, happily for us. But we have a few more years before we have that sad scenario to contemplate. Amalia at college. No more chewy oatmeal bars for us. Boo on both counts.
This time of year, we have a pleasant anticipation of cozying up in the house for a few months, but also a melancholy that every day could be “The Last Nice Day.” With today’s forecast on our minds yesterday, Amalia, Little Mack and I took off on One Last Autumnal Walk down the road, snapping pictures like crazy. After today, all this finery could be snow-covered. Of course, snow is lovely, too. In its own bone-chilling, blue-lip-producing way. Sigh.
There’s a long line of large round bales of alfalfa hay not far from our place. Little Mack delights himself in jumping down this line of bales, every time we walk down this road. This time Amalia and I joined him. It was fun. It was scary.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like this–in order to jump from one bale to the next, you need to use your arms to propel you. Every bale is sitting at a different angle, so you must adjust your landing carefully on each one, to avoid sliding or tumbling off. Meanwhile you’re about six feet off the ground. Farmers are driving past slowly, wondering just what that middle-aged woman is doing up there, high atop those bales, leaping like a lunatic, acting like a kid. What the heck–!!?
Of course little Mack sailed effortlessly over them, one by one. Because of a recent ankle injury (I know I shouldn’t have been up there in the first place, but doggonit-–!!) I jumped gingerly, trying to land on my right foot just so. . . and it was worth the risk. It was fun. It was scary. But did I mention that already?
One of our neighbor’s dogs bolts out when we pass his house, and he follows us joyfully no matter how far we walk. I’m thinking about just letting him follow us home next time, he’s such a sweet and enthusiastic hound. (Just kidding, Greg.) So far we’ve always walked him back home, after our walk. So far.
The last time I walked along this road, I found two dead (and only just freshly-dead) garter snakes. Little Mack had been begging me to allow him to dig into the High School Biology set and dissect some of the preserved critters–there’s an earthworm and a couple of fish and a frog, I think–He had the scalpel! He had the pins and the tray! He could just do it himself if I didn’t have the time to help him!
I carried the snakes home to him, and we sat right down and dissected them, immediately. I’m not a particularly squeamish person, but the inside of a snake is dicey stuff, Gentle Reader. I felt a bit squeamish that day, I don’t mind telling you. Just don’t tell my little Mack, please, lest he use this bit of intel against me.
He is 7 and we are opening up snakes and studying all their parts. What will we do for High School Biology, I wonder? I’m not sure I even want to imagine that yet . . .
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