Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009
Dear Diary:

We had our hard killing frost right after Thanksgiving. The tops of the mountains across the valley are faintly dusted with snow, the grass outside my window silver with frost each morning. The trees have shed most of their leaves. Only our oak tree and my birthday crab apple refuse to give up, both defiantly denying winter's approach.

I warn them that if we get an early heavy wet snowfall they will be in a world of pain, that the weight on their leaves will break branches. They ignore me. Trees are as wilful as cats.

Secretly, I'm glad they're there. The crab has gone a beautiful orange red that looks like stained glass when the sun shines through its leaves. The oak is chartreuse now but will turn a rich burgundy, a final splash of colour when all the other trees are just black claws reaching for the sky.

Winter is not here, but you can feel it in the cold morning air, the ever shorter days.

I spent yesterday afternoon harvesting begonia bulbs and canna lily roots, bagging them in damp peat moss. They'll nap through the winter in my basement and I'll haul them up into the house in March to wake them up for summer.

Somehow I have acquired ridiculous numbers of yellow begonias. As I labelled bags by colour, I made a mental note that my life will be empty and meaningless next spring unless I add a surfeit of pink begonias.

Since this is a mental note and hasn't actually been formally added to a list, I predict that I will go to the nursery next spring, be utterly enchanted by the various shades of yellow begonias, and again buy ridiculous numbers of yellow begonias.

I am nothing if not consistent.

Garden beds are cleaned up, prepared for dormancy. I decided to leave the purple asters, the yellow hellenium and the pink chrysanthemums. I can't give up that last splash of colour. I'll clean up their carcasses in the spring. There's always spring.

I am loathe to give up the yard this year. I've come to love the view from the front porch, the interplay of the woven rocks in the new pond and the new stone wall. When the afternoon's temperatures climb up ten degrees or so above freezing I pull on a heavy sweater, my down vest and take my tea break outside. I wrap my chilled fingers around the warmth of the cup and lose myself in garden dreams.

My cat, Eeny, shares my deep, deep love for the screened in porch. This past summer she'd often refuse to come in at night, preferring to sleep outside on the porch. This is the cat that used to hate the notion of outdoors. This is the cat who seldom strays from the food bowl for more than an hour at a time.

Deciding to both sleep outside and cut herself off from the food bowl for a good eight hours is the sign of how deep and true her love for the porch is. Only now, as it consistently freezes at night and the days stay cool has the cat given up her porch.

I've had one final burst of ambition this fall. The approach to our new pond was the approach to the woodshed and for many years we drove tractor load after tractor load of firewood over that ground. I want to landscape it next spring, but when I tried to dig it, my shovel couldn't get any purchase at all.

So I hauled out the pickaxe. There is gym fit and there is real world fit. If you want to seriously check out your fitness, I invite you to pick up a pick axe. I am good for about 15 minutes and then I have to rest 15 minutes. I can't begin to tell you how humbling that tool can be.

The terrain moves so much here it is hard for me to frame an image parallel to the horizon.To give you a sense of just how compacted that ground was, the first strike only managed to go down about three inches. It took two rounds of pickaxing and then triple digging of the ground to loosen it enough that I could dig in compost and alfalfa pellets.

We will not talk about how much rock came out of that hard clay ground. No, we will not. What's amazing is how much life has come into it already. I turned over an experimental shovelful yesterday and as cold as it is, there are already worms in what had been dead soil.

I am giddy with the possibilities. Seriously. I look at this swath of newly alive soil and I feel as if I've been handed diamonds. I'm already sketching the possibilities in my notebook.

Oh yes, Issues R Me.

The spousal unit decided to do the basic framing of my long promised garden shed this fall, much to my delight. If he had decided to build a standard little shed, he probably would have finished boarding up the roof by now. Apparently that would be way, way too simple.

Finally a room of my own.Instead, ten minutes before winter, he decided to echo the swoopy roof on our house, which is an infinitely more complicated framing job, especially using the rough sawn wood we had on hand. He finished that on Sunday and if the snow holds off, we'll board the roof up this weekend together.

"We" would be him scrambling all over up on the roof to measure, place and nail boards. I will be the one with feet resolutely planted on terra firma cutting boards and handing them up to him. I have had enough of heights in 2009, thankyewverymuch.

No money in the till to cover tin roofing, so that will have to wait until next spring. The rough sawn lumber we bought for siding needs to dry until next summer, so it can't go on either.

Patience, I tell myself, patience. It all eventually gets done, right? RIGHT?

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 143 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2009: 500 miles


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She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -


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This template is a riff on a design by the truly talented Quinn. Because I'm a html 'tard, I got alot of pity coding to modify it from Ms. Kittay, a woman who can make html roll over, beg, and bring her her slippers. The logo goodness comes from the God of Graphics, the Fuhrer of Fonts, the one, the only El Presidente. I smooch you all. The background image is part of a painting called Higher Calling by Carter Goodrich which graced the cover of the Aug. 3, 1998 issue of The New Yorker Magazine.

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