Monthly Archives: October 2021

Awake in autumn.

This autumn,
How old I am getting:
Ah, the clouds, the birds!


This verse that succinctly expresses my own feelings of the season, I found on the blog First Known When Lost, a place where I am always confident of finding beauty and serenity. In the post I link to, “Awake,” the blogger offers a well chosen smattering of haiku by Matsuo Bashō, including a good representation of autumn poetry, and commentary by by R. H. Blyth. Read the whole post to learn how Bashō can wake us up.

Trains next door add to our family fun.

In my own neighborhood.

People have written me from Idaho and Virginia, asking if we are being flooded. No, there is no danger close by, even though it rained for 24 hours straight, as my housemate Susan told me. I had driven north to Pippin’s for a couple of nights to be with various relations who were gathering to see Kate’s family. Fifteen of us ate and gabbed and hugged, and there was the necessary Settlers of Catan game, though it was short and small this time. Children ran and squealed.

It rained up there, too, and on my drive up and back. But not constantly… we were able to go out the first evening and put pennies on the railroad tracks next door; only minutes later a train came by, and then the hunt for flattened metal pieces began. In spite of the tape, which usually prevents them getting knocked off before the weight of the train comes down on them, the smashed coins are often carried a ways down the track and it requires a practiced eye to find them.

It was the shortest walk I’ve ever done while at Pippin’s, but of course there were interesting sights to see, because she was with me pointing them out. Who would have recognized this brown lumpy thing as a mushroom? She said that once she came upon people excavating  one for eating, but she hasn’t researched them.

Indoors, there are four cats again, including a new kitten named Fred. (Pecos disappeared and may have been eaten by a larger animal…?) Rio has a reputation for being “useless,” a label that in this household I don’t think has ever been applied to anyone else. But she offered her beautiful self to be petted by Rigo. Ivy and Jamie showed me the seed collections they had made for their homeschool science.

Kate’s husband Tom is very romantic about trains and loves visiting this place that is hard up against the railroad right of way. After everyone else had gone home or to bed Sunday night, he heard the train whistle again about midnight and went out to the tracks by himself with a flashlight. Not only did he get to see a rare passenger train speeding by, but he found one more thin and shining remnant of copper.

After rain after many days without rain.


After rain after many days without rain,
It stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear — but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

–Mary Oliver

Looking at boys and berries.

Kate’s family has been visiting for almost a week; this morning we drove south and walked around a slough. The rain had just stopped, so everything was wet and clean.

Much of the slough has dried up into  big fissures during the summer, and now those areas are turning to mud. Raj poked and petted the California mud, saying again and again how he liked touching it. He and little Rigo both loved running back and forth over a bridge we came across.

I recognized a toyon tree along the path (above). But the most interesting plant I saw was a Lemonade Berry, so the Seek app told me – rhus integrifolia. The only reason I wonder about it is, this plant is said to be frost tender, and native not to Northern California, but southern. The bushes here were big and healthy looking, so they evidently have made it through a few winters without being killed.

The air was soft and mild; the sun shone really hot at times. The boys got in a lot of running around a two-mile loop, and are now down for naps. I’m in a dreamy sort of state, having these dear people around whom I hadn’t seen in a year (including the parents!), loving just having them in the house and looking right into their faces, not at a screen. It’s so normal.