Friday, October 17, 2008

Winter is Coming

Summer ended in my northern Colorado town not with a whimper but a bang. Nighttime temperatures dropped, and then one morning we awoke to find each blade of grass finely limned with frost and the rooftops glittering in the sunlight as if the wind had scattered broken glass in its wake. The tender plants in the vegetable garden -- zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumber -- withered and twisted in instant defeat. But others, planted in August, relish the cool weather. Crisp Swiss chard leaves, tiny and tender on bright, multi-colored stems give the spinach some serious competition for our plates. Spicy mustard greens combine with baby lettuce leaves, new radishes, purple carrots and scallions to create a salad reminiscent of spring. But the sound of dry, yellowing cottonwood leaves scratching together in the mildest breeze belies any notion of impending summer.

The sweaters are back in the closet, returned from their summer hiatus in the guest bedroom. Flannel sheets and down comforters warm the beds. Menus veer toward soups and chilis and the house smells of fresh baked bread. Evenings are spent in front of the fire for all nine innings as the championship teams hammer their way -- or not -- to the World Series. On the arm of the sofa, a half-completed hat in chunky red wool perches on a pair of circular knitting needles.

Green tomatoes cover the window sills. Those that don't ripen quickly will go into cake, chutney, or spicy green tomato catsup. The big freezer in the garage is packed with local produce and a quarter of grass fed Charolais beef from a rancher down the road. The pantry shelves hold neat rows of pickles -- beans, watermelon rind, cucumbers and asparagus -- and bright yellow chutney, dark raspberry jam, jalapeƱo pickled carrots and purple sauerkraut. On the top shelf, a few bottles from my first attempt at making wine, strong enough to make your eyes water. Bunches of herbs hang from the ceiling to dry. The weekly vegetable delivery from our winter CSA share begins at the end of the month.

There will still be plenty to do: cleaning up and putting away the yard, getting a few more bulbs in, carving pumpkins to light the front porch for the costumed trick-or-treaters to come.

But for now, my desk beckons.

I've indulged in fresh notebooks and another cluster of my favorite pens. I've purged and archived computer files, defragged and backed up. Books for research sit ready on the shelf. On my clean desk, three new writing projects await my attention. At this point it's my choice which one I go with first.

Fall has arrived, as full of promise as any spring. And winter is coming.

Winter: my favorite time for writing. The anticipation is delicious.


Julia Buckley said...

Cricket, what a lovely and poetic post. And you've got me in the mood not just for fall, but for the cold outdoors.

G.M. Malliet said...

You made me hungry.

Keith Raffel said...

Cricket, it is better spending time in a world you control than in the anarchic "real world," isn't it?

Tx Lyn said...

Your pantry is light years better than mine. Would you please adopt me? And best wishes on the new projects. This is the best time of all.