Tuesday, October 4, 2005

The Slow Exhale

It was a school bus morning.
I awoke to the sound of heavy rain and rumbling thunder. Flashes of lightning gave the bedroom an electric quality. The house was dim, the grey outside only lending a touch of daylight to the quiet rooms. I turned on the kitchen light in order to make the coffee and prepare for my day. When I sat down on the living room floor, I heard heavy wide tires on the wet pavement and the release of the brakes as a yellow school bus trundled down the street, and I was immediately 15. Waiting for the bus on a rainy fall morning in my house in Winona, Minnesota.

It’s definitely autumn now. It was 85 degrees yesterday and humid, but ask the garden, and it will tell you. Walk out into the light, and it will touch your skin with that certain slant that is palpable. A new season, and my favorite. All around the city, the leaves are retreating, leaving behind red and gold and orange and brown as the trees shift into sleep. The peppers and tomatoes are still ripening, running a race with the first frost that could come this week. I’ll cover the plants that need it for as long as I can, eking out those last few basil leaves, and I’ll bring in the plants that can survive over the winter as long as Miss Hazel does not chew them to bloody stumps within the first week. She won’t be able to hide it when she leaps onto the bed in the morning, purring. And we slowly notice a pleasant whiff of… Rosemary? Sage? Two more and we’d have a folk song. No wonder our house does not smell like cats. Our cats smell like herbs.

Watching the garden go, moving the green inside, these cool rains and surprising warm days, tumbling crunchy leaves, nature doing its best Kandinsky, the sun and the earth dancing to a Parrish waltz. It’s like stepping into a stipple brush landscape. The kind that makes you want to name your house and don your overalls to take in the harvest; to lean on your shovel and smile knowingly at your surroundings, humming Copland. It’s that last sigh of contentment, the settling in before the storm. With comfort, we take our places in the flow of the seasons, and we wait.

But first, there is this. This spectacular show, this slow motion yearning toward repose. Perhaps we will walk to the market on an Indian Summer morning and sip a mocha on the patio. Maybe we will open the windows to the rain and thunder and take advantage of our love, the proximity of our warm bodies. It could be that all I want is another pint of raspberries before the frost, an apple pie from the orchard, a sighing afternoon in a park with you. Or a day without the news.

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