Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Goodbye summer, hello fall.

Well, the kids are back to school and the tourists, except retired folks, have gone home. The leaves are changing colour and falling to the ground, and the sunflowers reach the sky with their bright yellow bonnets. While the calendar says summer doesn’t end for another couple of weeks, this weekend autumn came rapping at the door.

The dogs and I walk the beach on this drizzly September day. The mist has obliterated any view of Salt Spring Island,

and the camping spots in the RV park sit empty and forlorn:

The cooler weather suits the dogs better, though they do not like the rain. But we spend a good half hour wandering along the beach - I believe each dog needs some physical and mental stimulation each day, just as humans do.

A kingfisher darts from rail to treetop calling his distinctive loud dry rattle and sharp tick tick tick, but he is too fast for my cold fumbling hands to transfer the leashes and focus the camera.

We return to the house, where the dogs sulk behind the babygate in the mudroom. They have gotten out of the habit of staying put while their thick fur dries.

I remove my wet jacket and grab my favourite sweater from the back of the closet. It is more than two dozen years old now – won by my daughter in a Mother’s Day colouring contest during our first year in the Northwest Territories. I call it my Mr. Rogers sweater, for it is a blocky, button-up cardigan with two square pockets on the front near the bottom, one on each side. It is bright red and its cheery colour warms the room in the grey afternoon light.

The colour in the room helps to compensate for the loss of colour on my patio. The rain has turned the fragile petunias mushy and brown.

I do hope, though, that September suns may still revive them. I have finally achieved baskets full of cascading blooms!

And speaking of red, with the cooler weather the danger of red tide is over, and so shellfish season is open once again. Sunday I got a bucket of oysters and one of clams from one of the locals – I barbequed some that night and savoured them with a fresh salad of local greens and my own tomatoes; Monday night was a fresh oyster burger instead. And last night was a bowl of my favourite mussel-tomato-basil soup, fragrant with garlic and white wine but made with clams instead of mussels – YUM! The rest of the clams and oysters are in the freezer, waiting to be turned into hot stews and soups and chowders and other belly-warming savouries on a cold winter day.

Shucked oysters

Pail of Clams

As I wash the clams and prepare them, I can't help but notice the beauty of each shell, each with its unique pattern, as different from one another as two snowflakes or two fingerprints.

The apples on the tree in the backyard are also turning red - a change from last year when they stayed uniformly green. This year's crop has fewer worms and scabs, but has been plagued with earwigs - my least favourite of all living things. It creeps me out to even pick them. I will likely put them on freecycle (the apples, not the earwigs!) so some brave non-squeamish soul willing to cut around the bugbits can make use of them.

The seasons seem to fly by. Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was celebrating spring, planting flowers, digging through Rubbermaid containers for lightweight summer clothes? And here it is, another fall. In three short months, my two shelties have died and my mother has aged more than the weeks on the calendar would suggest as her health and stamina continue to deteriorate. For me, another birthday has come and gone, and yet I feel no older, except perhaps the aching hip and back as arthritis continues to take its toll, exacerbated by the changing weather.

I love the changing seasons. The promise of fall is that winter will soon come and the promise of winter is that spring is close. And after spring, another summer. The seasons mark the passing time and yet ensure earth’s continuity.

Farewell, Summer. See you next year. Welcome, Autumn, welcome back.


Anonymous said...


I'm a summer girl, and hate to see it end. I refuse to put the air conditioner away yet, just in case we get another blast of heat....

Your hanging baskets do look very lovely, and your shellfish meals sound yummy.


Alphamutt said...

Jean, you really should submit some of your awesome photos to "The Listeners' Lens" on the CBC. Mark Forsyth picks his favorites, pretty much from soup to nuts. Your photos are in many cases far superior to those chosen to be featured each week.
There are at least 20 shots from the past few months alone that I would submit.

Just sayin'.... :)

Anonymous said...

Your soup sounds delicious. I'll come and pick your apples for you in exchange for the recipe. During our summer walks on the beach I found a good place to pick mussels.
Fall definitely is in the air. Sunny but the wind has a chill in it.