The Fall and Scuff

We all know what it sounds like, and we all know the scent: crisp leaves collected into piles. Then the leap, the mild sharp edges, the smell of the year’s last season. No matter how long it’s been since we’ve made that leap, the sensations are unforgettable; and a scuff-walk through fallen leaves brings it all back in a rush.

A Texas summer can be so relentless, so monotonous, that it’s easy to forget that weather ever changes. Weather forecasters promise rain week after week to keep us from hitting each other, and week after week we have no rain. Or ten drops and 100% humidity.

Then one day, or in the middle of one night, the north wind arrives and summer is slammed into the Gulf of Mexico. Rains return and we’re kind of supposed to be glad it’s 40 degrees and raining.


Fortunately those miserable days are quickly replaced by the high 70s and we watch our leaves change color. They go tree by tree at first, rolling out different hues and patterns as the days go by. It’s now late November and we have plenty of color still to come.

But the serious falling has begun.

Speaking of falling. Last month I made the amazing discovery that I don’t even need to fall to break myself. It was the most ironic situation I’ve landed in since years ago when a kitty I was holding onto at the vet bit my right ring finger so hard I ended up in some of the most painful and long-lasting trouble I’ve ever endured. No good deed going unpunished and all.

This time I don’t even have a frightened kitty to blame. I could blame a hose, however.

Since I paint in a corner of the garage when weather permits, I make much use of the hose right outside the garage. The ground in that area was covered with 2-6″ rocks placed by I myself personally that all of a sudden seemed a little unstable. Clearly the large rocks had to go, and a cubic yard of gravel must be put into place in their stead.

That was all it took for the universe to admit me to the world of stress fractures. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t seen the X-ray.

Breaking your foot in the effort to render a piece of your property safer. Can I be the only one?

… A few days have gone by since I started this post; I was glued to the TV and having flashbacks to the ’70s. Fortunately, nature has moved along on its own and during TV breaks I could take in some more colors.

In the back yard, the pomegranates that always split open before ripening (about which I do not care because I only like pomegranates for their flowers) create cracked red orbs filled with red beads. This is sufficient holiday decoration, as far as I’m concerned.

The birds will make good use of the fruit. And maybe a thirsty skunk or two. We’ve had a few as night visitors and are only lucky enough to have a pretty passive dog and a VERY calm skunk who didn’t even become punitive when Travis trotted off up the street after them! We now have five quarts of hydrogen peroxide at the ready, and all fingers crossed.

The steel planter tree outside my window is dressed in winter colors. I’d been thinking “pansies” when I realized I was out of pressed flowers and thinking about selling art at the nearest farmers’ market. They’ll be pretty all winter.

Also in the back yard, maple tree + pomegranates + this morning’s wild north wind.

Some of our crape myrtles are the late-blooming types, and two outside the front window are also late to take color.

Damp air and a north wind are the perfect excuses for painting in the kitchen instead of the garage. It’s amazing how much of a mess I will clean up every day when I have to.

I’ve been playing with a few techniques.

On a recent evening walk Travis and I looked up for sources of color, and were duly rewarded.

It reminds me of the part in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek when Annie Dillard writes about people who’ve been blind from birth being surgically given their sight. One person exclaimed over and over about “the tree with lights in it.”

So I’m living the quiet life and really loving it. Off to LA in a few days where I’ll spend a month with my girl Mary. When I return all the leaves that fall will have fallen, and the dull days of winter will be in full swing.

Fortunately for me, that doesn’t drag on for too long.