Monday, August 25, 2008

Greener pastures

Getting into the start of the school year is bittersweet. I know autumn is preparing for her annual visit and summer is looking to move on in a few short weeks. I know we have some time left, and that the warm, sweet days are not done yet, but I do feel a tug of anxiety at letting go of all that green outside.

I spent the last week immersed in it, up it the Green Mountains of Vermont, revelling in the cool breezes up there on the mountainside trails, wandering alone through lush, emerald woods on curving pathways through the ferns.

I spent time gathering up wildflowers by the roadside when traveling, tucking them into a water bottle until I could bring them back to put them by my bed.

I enjoyed an afternoon strolling through the neat lines of vineyard arbors, their branches dressed with new fruit and scores of japanese beetles, who clustered on the leaves engaged in indecent insect acrobatics.

I drew in deep breaths of the fresh wind that danced across Lake Champlain in the bright sun, the blue water dazzling, the blue sky as startling as a happy shout, and I ran my eyes along the Adirondack mountains that line the distant New York coast.

I watched an evening thunderstorm consume the mountain opposite our balcony, rolling in dressed in ominous purple and indigo robes and shutting out the twilight sky;

in the morning, a shroud of heavy grey cloud had been draped gently over the mountainface, and the rain was still falling, softly this time.

All these things I try to fold up and tuck into the corners of my mind like a colorful quilt for when it is cold outside, for when the trees stand naked and the air stings with a frosty snap, and the world is painted in blues and greys.

I plan to take them out and wrap myself in them, a cloak to weather the seasons as they turn, turn, turn.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Wild Side

Yesterday evening, I witnessed a wildness in the weather that I had not seen here in Connecticut before. I have seen my share of storms; even a hurricane when I lived in Puerto Rico as a child. This, though, was no ordinary summer storm. It churned up in a matter of minutes, bearing down on the neighboring city of Bridgeport, triggering a tornado watch here in our town. The wind barrelled in, lashing the trees with heavy rain. I watched out the window in amazement as the rain turned over to hail, small as lemon pips to start, but soon becoming larger.

Soon, hailstones the size of hazelnuts were bouncing as the hit the lawn, clanging angrily on the air conditioners, and dimpling hubby's car with the impact of their descent.

They splashed into the massive pools of water that had appeared in our lawn, making it look as though they were stocked with leaping trout.

The hail brought with it a fiercer wind, and between both forces, leaves were being shredded all around, torn from the trees and whirling madly in the maelstrom: I felt like we were in some horrible snowglobe-slash-salad spinner, as I watched the thousands of green scraps hurtling in circles through air now white with density of the rain.

The trees down the street became invisible. And I admit, I got scared. This was fury I had not seen in a storm before. We sent the children to the basement and closed all the windows. We watched the lights flicker repeatedly, and hoped the cats had found a safe place to hunker down, since calling them at the start of the storm had proven futile.

In the backyard, muddy water sluiced through from our neighbor's yard, like a frantic river trying madly to outrun itself, and our walkway of stepping stones vanished under the rising water.

When things finally quieted down, I took a look at the astounding mess outside. Shredded leaves clung to every surface like wet confetti, and hailstones had accumulated at the edges of walkways and steps, in the wooded areas behind the house.

They even floated like ice cubes in a cold drink in the puddles on the patio.

Large branches had been beaten from the trees;some hung akwardly from the roof of the shed while others were scattered over the lawn. The air was heavy with the smell of earth and fresh greens; the perfume of pines and poplars, the chlorophyll beaten out of them and into the air.

It was magnificent, and humbling, and had us on the edge of our seats for the whole show (the cats most of all, who were ecstatic to be back in the warm house when the show was over.)

Nature is a grand diva when she wants to be, and when she wants to take a walk on the wild side, sometimes we have no choice but to tag along.