Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dwindling

There was a layer of frost on the grass this morning when I woke up.

We need to pick the zucchini before it shrivels. It's one of the first things to go. That, and the basil. My mother-in-law is trimming basil leaves and making copious amounts of pesto to put in the freezer.

We're a family of mice storing up for the winter.

The grapes are plentiful, swollen and heavy on the vine. My father-in-law picks them and puts them in the biggest mixing bowl I've ever seen. Then, my mother-in-law washes them and packs them in the dehydrator, belly to belly.

I never liked eating raisins before. Oatmeal raisin cookies made me gag. If I were starving and all you had to offer me were raisins, I'd probably choose starvation. (Okay, maybe I'd eat a couple.) But that's because I never tried eating Nai Nai's homemade raisins. These last couple days I've been a raisin addict, popping them like they're Jelly Bellies. Warm off the rack are especially nice.

Even with all these good things happening this fall, I still don't think I'm ready to relinquish summer. This morning I took a walk and saw the hydrangeas brittle and beige. Touch them and they crumble. The sunflowers bow, stalks yellow. The tips of the tree leaves burn bright orange. I stepped on a large one that had already fallen. It crunched. Anna said, "What's that?"

In the sunlight my children bend their heads back, close their eyes, bask; in the shade they huddle, entwining legs and arms, shiver and cry. In bare feet, a walk across the grass is warm and soft one minute, frigid and soggy the next, passing from sunlit spots to shadow. It's sad to look across and see your old friend the basil bush, pruned down to almost nothing. Stunted.

I don't know this place in fall; it will be a world unexplored. Learning to put on a coat again, to wear socks. Reserving an extra ten minutes before we walk out the door to make sure everyone is bundled. Car heaters pumping hot air. Lots of baking. Hot chocolate every morning. Sniffing the air for the first snow.

Time to dig out the winter clothes from the boxes in the garage. Time to wake up when it's still dark. Time to accept summer's inevitable dwindle.

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