Friday, October 16, 2009

October's bright blue weather

I'd been so enjoying autumn and now summer's back, at least for a couple of days, with temperatures in the mid-90s.  But to paraphrase Dickens, I will keep autumn in my heart.  This is the time of year, here in the desert, when earth seems to heave a small sigh of relief.  It is my favorite season in the way it signals beginnings and endings.  It's the Celtic New Year, and I wish I were more computer literate so I could post Van Morrison's song by that name. It's the time when I find dead butterflies at the side of the road, pick them up carefully and take them home to keep them safe until I find some artwork into which they can be incorporated, and I find myself quoting Yeats:

. . . and wisdom is a butterfly
and not a gloomy bird of prey . . .

Here also it is the time before el Dia de los Muertos, and I set up my ofrenda to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us, although according to some traditions at this time the veil between the worlds thins and they can either pass through to visit us or at least see how we honor them.

The photographs are of parents, grandparents, and our sweet little cat Cleo.  The skeletons let us laugh at death (and the writer at her typewriter lets me laugh at myself).  The brides and grooms (there's another set not shown in this closeup detail, of  a calavera bride and groom driving off to their honeymoon in an open jeep) were actually wedding presents!  We love them.
          It's traditional to set out things the dead enjoyed, and probably I could have put out a pack of Pall Malls and a pint of bourbon for one grandfather, who died of emphysema.  The fruit is for my maternal grandmother, in the sepia wedding picture just behind the Golden Delicious apple. During the Great Depression she worked in the fruit-packing sheds at Emmett, Idaho, a town once known for its wonderful orchards that have since been turned into subdivisions as Emmett itself has become a bedroom community for Boise.  She loved the work and continued there as a seasonal supervisor even after the economy improved.  She especially loved apples.  The workers could take the culls home, and my mother remembers Grandma coming home after a long day at work and staying up until the wee hours of the morning, canning applesauce, cherries, peaches, all sorts of things.  She also made sure to buy at least one pomegranate each year as a special treat, and I do too.  The pomegranates remind us of Persephone, who descends into her husband Hades' realm at this time when the world turns colder and darker.

When it's cold and dark, it's lovely to snuggle up in warm sweaters and quilts.  I made this quilt last year for el Dia de los Muertos.  It's a small one, lap robe size, just right for an evening with a good book and a mug of hot cider or mulled wine.
I hope you all enjoy this season and everything it brings us, especially the promise of rest and renewal.


  1. I love that you acknowledge this time of year as one of rest and renewal. Now, in the quiet coolness that serves as a respite from the summer heat, we have a moment to breathe deeply again and gather our strengths. The air is alive with the presence of our ancestors and the air is full of the energy they bring. This is my favorite time of year.

  2. I agree completely! I feel both calmed and energized by the season, more than at any other time of year.