A thick and chilly fog on Friday morning.
I stood shivering on the side porch long enough to take several shots of the dense fog that swirled ahead of the sun as it climbed over the hill.
I am not partial to November in any place that we have lived.
The glorious colors of October have bleached to duller greys and browns.
The flowers of roadsides and gardens have been blackened by several frosty nights.
For all of the week past there has been wind--sometimes roughly gusting in with lashings of rain, at other times merely biting through one's clothes in spite of intermittent sunshine.
Darkness arrives early each afternoon with a month of decreasing daylight to be endured before the solstice and the slow turning again toward sunny hours.
I spent the week in desultory tasks: the usual rituals of meals to prepare, laundry and cleaning to be done. I considered a number of more creative projects on my 'to do
list and was not motivated to begin any.
I planned to do some of the grocery shopping on Wednesday as Jim was out, but torrents of rain began mid-morning and continued throughout the day.
I thought of cold drizzles down my neck at each stop, of hair whipped into my face, spectacles spattered, and decided there was nothing urgently needed.
Thursday broke sunny though chilly and after breakfast I commandeered the old mini-van--which I prefer to drive--and set out for the Mennonite community which sprawls over the area we refer to as 'South Fork.'
My first stop was at Casey County Discount Foods.
One never knows exactly what will be on offer there as merchandise comes from
odd lots and close-outs. Canned foods may be close to the stamped expiration date or a can
may be 'dented.'
Shopping there in the crowded aisles is fairly time-consuming, but my judicious poking about has resulted in considerable savings on staple items as well as some unexpected treats.
From the discount store I back-tracked to the turning which leads up a winding road, past a number of Mennonite-owned farms and retail shops.
I didn't tempt myself with a stop at either the quilt shop or the mercantile, but made for the whole foods store and bakery.
I love the smell of that shop.
Even the cardboard box in which my purchases are packed is permeated with the scent of herbs and grains, of hand-crafted soaps and lotions, of new bread.
It is a friendly shop, one whose homely goods appeal to me, one of the few places where I enjoy the task of collecting what we need.
A stop at the produce market for tomatoes and two sacks of red potatoes, a wander around the displays of pears, apples, sweet potatoes.
I note that the price of the apples and sweet potatoes is more than at the Beachy Amish farm which is about 2 miles up the ridge from our home.
Jim is in the house when I pull up to the front door and helps to haul in the bags and boxes of food.
He is not ready for lunch, so I gather up empty egg cartons and head out again to the Beachy's.
Mr. Beachy and one of the sons are just driving out in the black truck [Beachy Amish are allowed to own and drive vehicles, which must be a sober black and without gaudy chrome trim!]
A younger son is sorting potatoes, bagging up apples that have been brought in from Pennsylvania.
I tell him that I have relatives arriving for the Thanksgiving holiday and that I need fresh eggs.
He rummages in a fridge and hands over three dozen.
I select a half bushel sack of Winesap apples, ask if I can choose sweet potatoes from one of the bins.
He obligingly holds open the plastic sack for me, notices what size potatoes I am selecting and helps to fill the sack.
He chats cheerfully, full of queries.
His speech is thickly rural Kentucky with perhaps an overlay of the Germanic dialect common to the Amish and Mennonite families.
Sometimes I have to ask him to repeat what he has just said.
[It occurs to me occasionally to wonder if my quite precise diction is problematic for one used to southern accents.]
Charlie cat enjoying the morning son atop Jim's truck.
I didn't want to go out again on Friday, and particularly not to Wal Mart, but convinced myself that waiting until sometime next week to get a frozen turkey for the holiday meal would be even less enjoyable.
I drove into town through windy sunshine, visited the charity shops; I had my haircut, accomplished the shopping, came home vowing--as I do every year--that other than the most necessary items--I won't go near the big chain stores until after the new year!
Willis rolls in the driveway gravel while Sadie the barn cat stalks away, ears back in disapproval.
Tis the season of wooly bears, those caterpillars whose black and orange markings are meant to foretell the mildness or severity of the coming winter.
I encountered more than a dozen of them in the past two weeks while gardening or other outside chores. All are wearing a wide center band which folklore holds as a prophecy of an open winter.
We shall see.
A day of roiling clouds, blue sky hiding behind billows of steely grey.
I pulled on a ribbed sweater and zip-front 'hoodie' over a long-sleeved T and still felt the bite of the damp wind.
With cat litter duties tended I made myself walk down the lane and back, then scuttled inside to brew a mug of tea and put another stick of wood in the fire.
My instinct during these darkening weeks is to hibernate, to huddle with a book, to be sedentary, my lap warmed with a cat.
Strangely, in spite of several nights of sharp frost, lemon balm still wears its shiny fragrant leaves.
I brought in a few sprigs, picked the final bud on the rose in the corner of the garden.
It appears dry, seared by the cold winds, nipped by the frost.
If the petals should unfold, I will be delighted--and surprised.