Desultory: marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose [Merriam-Webster]
'Desultory' is a word I admire. I don't often get to use it in a spoken sentence, but the above definition suits
my days and nights of the past weeks.
J. returned on October 19 from a month in Wyoming, where he worked on a construction project
with our son.
J.'s work has often taken him away, and I have always adapted to that, finding things to do, and in spite of missing him, I revel in the chance to stay up past midnight, to play the piano at strange hours, to snatch a hasty snack of cheese, toast and tea, then return to the project at hand.
I have spent a large portion of my time outdoors, rising to cool misty mornings, bundling myself in faded 'hoodie', a down vest and my wellies to do the "chores"--cleaning litter boxes, dishing up grain for Pebbles and putting out her hay, taking fresh water and kibble to the barn cats.
By the time that was acomplished the sun had spread a swath of warmth onto the front porch, where, in company with Raisin, the old lady cat, I sat for a few minutes, my hands wrapped around a mug of coffee.
As the heavy dew sparkled underfoot, a trip to the upper garden was next, to check what needed to be harvested.
One morning in particular is lodged in my memory: a stirring wind and birds everywhere: crows speaking in hoarse racuous voices as they stalked across the cleared ground of the upper pasture; the shriek of a bluejay who had doubtless spied the cats in their fenced yard; a plump bird [mourning dove?] atop the post near the goat-willow tree; a toss of bluebirds wheeling above the garden fence.
The broccoli came on suddenly, so I called on G. and D. to help eat it!
The sun shone and the wind blew throughout warm days, swirling leaves down from the maples and strewing them across the yard.
Pebbles roamed her pasture, sometimes kicking up her heels and galloping like a youngster, seemingly inspired by the playful wind.
A clump of late Michaelmas daisies, smokey purple in the upper flower border.
[These are either Purple Dome or Patricia Ballard. The tags have migrated about and of course I don't recall which variety I planted in which spot!]
Hawkeye Belle continues to produce her lovely pink blooms. This one is on the small plant which has sprung up several feet from the parent bush.
Willis, soaking up the morning sunshine which streams in the south-facing opening of the hay barn.
There have been beans to pick and process.
G. and I dragged chairs into the back yard and sat in the sun to snip these in readiness for the canner.
I put up 12 pints from the first picking, 8 pints later in the week.
When I unfolded myself [creakingly] from the bean rows I noticed this cluster of raspberries.
I didn't leave them for the birds! The berries were cool and sweet.
I was hoping the butterfly would unfold its wings for a photo.
It is either a monarch or a viceroy---there are slight differences in the markings of the lower wings.
The zinnias were looking quite ratty overall, but a few blooms such as this one earned them a few more days in the garden.
Our first frost [Friday, Oct 21] blanched the last of the blooms and I pulled up the shabby plants today.
As I worked outside I pondered the possible adjectives to describe such lovely autumn days:
'golden'--'mellow'--'ripe'--we use familiar words again and again because they conjure memories of colors and scents, recollections of other seasons lived in other times and places.
I stayed outside, crouched grubbing in the flower borders until the sun slid into the woods behind the old barns. With my tools put away in the cluttered shop, I blundered stiffly to the house to scrub crusted earth from beneath my nails, stand in a hot shower, retire to my rocking chair with a mug of tea and a bowl of soup.
The dancing wind blew maple leaves into the cat yard, entrancing the resident felines who have chased, skittered and finally collapsed in the crispy heaps.
Mima-cat curls near the fence, alert to the birds who pass overhead.
The upper border after an afternoon of weeding and dividing and moving plants.
There are gaps where I dug up hollyhock [continually raddled with rust and bugs] moved peonies to the garden which D. created. Other perennials which were mainstays of my Vermont gardens do not survive the heat and humidity of Kentucky summers; delphinium, Canterbury bells, lady's mantle will bloom briefly then disappear and the place there-of knows them no more! I don't think my gardening budget stretches to buying these each year for an early May flowering.
In our second Kentucky year I'm noticing that local flower gardens peak in late May, relying heavily on flowering shrubs. Plants which were a New England mainstay of July and August [coneflower, rudbeckia, butterfly weed, monarda] blossom here in June, then everything gasps as the heat moves in.
Another year I will rely on annuals such as zinnias, marigolds, comos, which can stand the heat and can be seeded in place to take over when the perennials need to be cut back.
I weeded down the back length of the border until I reached the lemon-scented southernwood which has been eclipsed by the clump of Michaelmas daisies. My intention was to relocate the southernwood.
I realized suddenly that the daisies were alive with bees--honeybees and a few bumblebees. I quietly removed myself from their busy activity--the southernwood can be moved when the bees are resting on a rainy day.
While I retreated from the Michaelas daisies, Willis did not.
I hadn't realized he was lurking that close to where I was working.
With his tweedy camouflage he has a disconcerting way of suddenly appearing when I least expect him!
With J. home again the strangely patternless [desultory] days slide toward a more predictable routine.
Nights have been chilly, a wood fire morning and evening is welcome.
I attempt to sort particular moments from the blur of several weeks:
I recount to J. the night that coyotes yipped and howled at the edge of the woods as I was preparing for bed shortly after midnight. I tell him how I stood in the yellow-white circle of the yard light and bellowed at the coyotes, "Git! Go away--shut up!" They went quiet and I imagined them [startled?] slinking away among the tangle of trees where I have never walked.
I think of the mornings when my booted feet left a trail in the dew-sopped grass; when Willis the Cat found a sun-warmed spot on the porch to lick his tweedy paws dry after following me on my rounds.
There were hours and meals shared with our daughter and grandson.
There were busy hours of quiet---I'm not one who needs a radio or tv running as background noise.
There were times when I sang--for my own encouragement--and to the astonishment of the cats!
The garden is winding down--some beautiful cabbages yet to harvest, kale flourishing for
an early winter crop.
J. has wood to cut and stack.
As the angle of the sun slides lower and the days grow shorter, my mind turns to quilts that need to be completed, stacks of books which remain to be sorted into shelves--or relinquished to the Goodwill shop.
I will be baking more, soup will simmer on the back burner.
And I will watch the timeless turning of autumn toward winter, never tiring of the
changing of country seasons.