Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Leaves in the Wind, Cats, Comfort Food

The wind was biting on Monday--a side-effect of Hurricane Sandy which has raged up the east coast of the US. The sky here was blue with sailing puffs of fat white clouds.
The wind, coming out of the North, swept the leaves from the maples near the drive, creating a natural 'bedding' for the perennial strips.

The three kittens and Willis were beside themselves with chasing leaves, spatting their paws to pin some down as they whisked past.

Bobby McGee in the leaves.

Willis--a bit on his dignity.
It grew colder as evening came on.
We sat on either side of the fireplace, J. watching TV [sigh] while I managed, for the most part, to tune it out and immerse myself in a good mystery.
Wind moaned in the chimney and I could see branches swaying and throwing dancing shadows
under the yard light whenever I stepped to the glass doors in the dining area.
It wasn't a damaging wind and rather mild compared to the almost daily whipping winds we
knew in Wyoming.
After J. went to bed, the cats and I sat on, enjoying the warmth of the fire.
I lifted my eyes from my reading with each fresh gust of wind and thought of those living in the
path of the storm.

We woke to a dank and chilly day.
J. puttered about in the garage for awhile.
I tidied up after a hearty breakfat, took a load of laundry downstairs.
When J. came in he announced it was a good donut making day.
We don't make these in hot weather, but there is something very homey about fresh, sugary donuts with a mug of tea or coffee when the weather is brisk.

I mix the dough and cut out the rounds.
J. fries them and shakes them in the cinnamon-sugar coating.
This time I added powdered vanilla to the mix in the paper bag--a nice touch.

I make no apologies for these--health food they are not--warm donuts are comfort food of long-standing tradition in farm kitchens.

Off-subject for wind, cats and donuts, but here are the latest roses brought in from of the cold.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Turn Toward Colder Weather

October has been a brilliant month. Day after warm golden day, mild nights after a frost at the time of the full moon. I have invented small chores to take me outdoors, savoured moments of mellow afternoon sunshine, bright leaves swirling from the dooryard maples.
One could wish that such weather might extend until at least January!
It was evident yesterday that change was coming.
The sun sulked behind shifty clouds. The wind picked up, swiping leaves from the twigs and whoosing them in deep drifts that have lodged in the perennial strips and strewn the driveway.

By evening raindrops were spattering.
I woke this morning [Saturday] to darkness beyond the shuttered windows and the sound of rain on the roof shingles.
My feet were warmly weighted with the furry bulk of cats--cats who always know the moment my eyelids twitch and beseige me to lumber out of bed and pad down the hallway to set out cat dishes.
J. had made up the woodfire before bed last evening and there was still a lingering warmth to that end of the cottage.
With the cat-clamor satisfiied, I pulled on wellies, a thick hoodie and a quilted vest.
Outside the rain was now a mere drizzle. The scent of woodsmoke was heavy on the grey air; sounds were muted.
I hurried to tend litterbox duties and to dish out grain for Pebbles the old horse.
She is stiff and creaking, every one of her 26 years now bleakly evident.
Willis and the tortie sisters milled about as I forked hay and doled out a helping of grain designated for 'Senoir Horses.'
[Pebbles is J.'s horse, but since I am often outside now before him, I give her breakfast.]

A few still-lovely roses catch my eye, and I fetch the scissors;
The smell of mint is sharp on the chilly air, stalks pummeled by rain and trampled beneath my boots as I reach to rescue rain-heavy blooms.

Inside again to the alluring odor of coffee perking--my one cup of the day.
J. is up and replenishing the fire;
Cats have eaten and are now parked here and there industriously washing paws and polishing whiskers, ready to curl up, tails over noses, for a quick nap while humans come to grips with the day ahead.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Catly Portraits

Willis: "I don't want to look at you or your camera."

Nellie: "In a minute I will pounce on a grasshopper. Right now I'm thinking."

Teasel: "Something strange is happening. Leaves falling all around me."

LIttle Edward:  "Oh! Fun!"

Little Edward:  "Why is she telling me to get down?  I'm helping!"

Willow: "I know somebody is watching me.  I 'll walk very quietly."

Charlie:  "I've had a taxing day--leave me alone."

Bobby McGee: "This basket is made for curling--not stretching."

Little Edward: " I don't understand--what does 'get down!' mean?"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quiet Days

Last week J. decided to visit his sister who lives in Tennessee.
I was still weary from my painting project, from late [delightful] evenings with company, from hours of canning fruit.
Contemplating the miles of riding in the car, three nights in a strange bed, the effort needed for conversation and outings I suddenly decided I was not up for it.
I sent J. on his way--not without some regrets--but also with a feeling of relief as
quiet descended on the house.
The day was chilly and sunless with a nipping wind.
I made up the wood fire in the living room, put the kettle on for tea, gathered books and magazines and retreated to my favorite lair--my Grampa Mac's old rocking chair which sits in a corner near the fireplace.
I thought briefly of the projects I might undertake with no scheduled meals to prepare, no din of the TV.
I even considered that perhaps I should haul out the vac and do a bit of house cleaning.
In the end, I admitted that I was badly over-tired and that I could REST without feeling guilty.

By Sunday morning sunshine had returned and two days of quiet tasks interspersed with hours of  reading by the fire had begun to restore me.
With breakfast cleared away and animals tended, I went outside to enjoy October's 'bright blue weather.'

Each day a new crop of leaves has drifted down from the dooryard trees.

Dogwood leaves have turned a glowing deep red.

The old pear tree looms against the sky.
Yesterday the corn harvesting machinery growled through the field, leaving brown stubble behind.

A clump of yarrow, started from seed in the springtime, blooms near the front steps.

Last blooms on the phlox.

Roses and mint.

Willis potters about with me, weaving through the tall bleached grass at the edge of the front field.

Llittle Edward poses prettily in a clump of lavender.

Not as attractive as catnip, still my herbal harvest must be investigated.

Note the differences in color of the lavender branches.  The grey tinged stalks are from plants purchased last year. The plants I raised this spring from seed designated a 'lavender vera' have green foliage.

Each day the landscape changes as the leaves deepen in color and then
float down to lie in sweeps and billows across the lawn.
Mornings are darker, the daylight melts away into dusky evenings as we move ever closer to the season of winter.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

After the Frost

A post with more pictures than words.
Frost hit the Big Creek Valley last week after some false alarms--evenings when we hurried out in the last light to throw old furniture quilts, tablecloths and towels over green beans in the garden and house plants on the porch. Mornings of heavy dew, but no frost, saw us tweeking wet covers off to dry in the sunshine.
I carried most of the begonias and geraniums down to the basement where they will spend the winter months on an old table beneath a flourescent light fixture.
The frost did come on a night of full moon light and morning brought the unwelcome scene of blackened and drooping sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos--the flowers which revived in the balmy September days to bless us with their brilliant colors.

Brocolli plants, from seed sown directly in the garden, are thriving in the cooler weather.

Double-Red Knock-Out roses continue to produce bloom until really harsh temperatures prevail.

A few blooms of spicey 'pinks.'

Stalks of rampaging mint have produced fuzzy flower heads.

Coneflower looking a bit shriveled by the cold night.

All that remains of the exuberant row of zinnias.

J. has hauled old bedding from Pebbles' yard to spread on a veg bed--the kittens are intrigued.

A last sighting of the garden spider.

Her egg sack blends with the frost-blasted stalks of zinnias.

Frosted zinnias.

I've collected enough zinnia seed to sow a whole garden come another spring: zinnias, anyone?

The Michaelmas daisies are still lovely.

Sunflower heads bend toward the ground, heavy with seed.

Here and there a frazzled bloom.

Each day the wind brings down more leaves.

Beauty still in these sere, stripped-down shapes.

A feast for the lingering goldfinches.

There are several varieties of maples in the dooryard.  Some have lost most of their brilliant leaves, others are still in the process of turning.

Teasel contemplates the leaves which swirl around her in the cat yard.