How we all love to pick apples,
sink expectant teeth into unsuspecting flesh
that spews sweet spray onto one another’s faces
the crunch a clarion call - and come they do!
How my boy, not yet two, would grab and gnaw
his little white teeth across the red surface,
sink slowly into the sweetness hiding there
to his eye-widening delight; and how I imagine
him slinging his own baby boy across his slim back
reaching the same long arms for one, then another,
testing four teeth against the slippery skin
and likely dropping it before he gains traction enough
for a true taste. What is it about fall
that brings a grown daughter home every year
to climb a tree, snap a few selfies
and slide more than a few luscious bites
of Macintosh, Macoun and Cortland into her
waiting mouth? To the other, I mail packages
packed with care to preserve a pair of Mac’s
and a jar of jam. Already I have stewed and frozen
vats of Macinsauce, simmered pints of golden brown
apple butter, baked muffins and pie and crisp
and crumble, all this New England fare of yore
begging for more. How grateful I for the crunch
of each fall afresh with plucking and picking up
what fell from weight or wind, as I fall
into delirium with each delicious bite.
Photos by Jim Hester, Fall 1990. Both are slides; the second is a phone capture from slide - clumsy technology but a favorite shot.
Just as we dreamed it. Sitting side by side, distant mountains reviewing the hills climbed, crags staggered over, valleys descended. Drained now of color, just the essence of Us. Together. Remembering. Being. More real than the dream lost by your too-early death. This, too, I remember.
I love fall. Every day something new. Wind stirring leaves across the deck or whirling them in random waves from their branches. Gold, rust, scarlet, fading greens of all hues. Fallen leaves forming ever-shifting patterns on the ground. Quiet days and howling nights. Sun, rain, unpredictable temperatures. All of it morphing summer’s landscapes both interior and beyond. The hint of cold to come; the nostalgia of warmth leaving. The snap of first frost with its promises of warming fires and soups. The changing light. Sudden silence following the incessant honking of traveling vee’s of south-winging geese. The quieting of songbirds. Cold-nosed nights under cosy comforters. Turning inward to reflect, hold, contemplate.
It turns out my new pup loves fall, as well. We take long walks along beach, through forest, in open fields. Each scent an announcement of some new joy or mystery for her to solve. Each clump of grass an excuse to explore. Each canine encounter cause for celebratory play. Each basin of water an invitation to splash and leap. The sheer exuberance of it all is heart-expanding, energizing. The season renews and invigorates even as it winds down to quiet and stillness. And then there’s the experience of a single, perfect day.
A Perfect Day
Daybreak. Orange fluttering atop pink
milkweed, six or more pairs a token
of past years’ orange clouds covering fields
to refuel en route south for winter.
A yoga hour of stretch, rise, bend,
reach, the dog beside me on the mat,
her bone firm between paw and jaw.
The two of us savoring the calm.
Ahead, gathering and dispersing weed,
broken branch; checking for ripe
eggplant, tomato; plucking the last
golden raspberries from their canes.
Later, a dark gray ribbon snaking the horizon
vowing thunder and pelting rain to follow.
The dog reveling in the rise and fall
of foam-edged tide; and I,
in four decades of this same walk
my children growing up and I, old. Shoreline
receding with memories of each summer
spent, each reunion and visit shared.
Evening sun sliding down its softened hues.
Peace rising between and around us.
I spent much of the last two days with my hands in dirt. This is the kind of thing only someone with obsessive tendencies, extreme motivation, or who is retired, would undertake. Yesterday it was pulling weeds – read grass, dandelions, and other assorted volunteers – which persist in populating the loose-stone-covered parking pull-out. Today it was multiple seasons’ worth of snow-plowed stone from the drive, layered and hiding in deep pockets in the ragged grass.
Now, this is a simple summer place. I have no opinion about the merits of grass in the rocks where I park my car, per se. But I AM highly motivated to prevent another mouse infestation in any part of the car whatever. [We’ll need to wait for a relevant WP Prompt to hear this tale.] And our ‘lawn’ is neither manicured nor fully grass. However, I do take umbrage at the shift of stone from drive to yard, on principle.
So yesterday was spent in the incredibly tedious task of pulling up small and large clumps of grass, one at a finger-pinched time, to ensure that all roots were fully removed. Masses of them covering just about every parkable inch of space available to my car. Today, it was the even more tedious task of liberating stone – ultimately, two wheelbarrow loads – from the grassy depths where it had piled and gathered over too many years. Each summer the vague notion of reuniting this errant collection of stone with its foundational partners has occurred to me. THIS year I acted upon it. Continue reading →
Tides rise and fall, flow through
our western view opened wide
with windows that picture the moving
panorama of light, water, grass.
Floating hypnotically within
a mobile of driftwood assembled
on the eve of your departure for
college, memories of all the growing up
summers of sand and sea where you mooned
the waves, dripped castles and dug
after squirming crabs. All these gathered
gray shapes of memory float and turn,
reverse, revolve, never-ending tales of sea and time
like our beach bereft now of dunes, seasons
having carved new inland walls from sand,
rootless and undefended as the mobile.
How we circle, float, drift, return
tethered from one single thread
that moors us fast with love and grace
to our beginning sense of place.