We are not good vegetable gardeners, but my wife planted some good stuff this year, and a faithful tomato plant in the backyard, having given so much fruit, has now given its last. We got some good string beans and a few more things, but this tomato plant has been a particularly amazing producer. Its vine extended 12 or 15 feet upward onto our 2nd-floor deck. (See below, lower left.) For about three months,. we have never been in want for these sweet delights. They are like candy, and they also go nicely on salads, and in halves on grilled fish and in sandwiches. Since we’ve had a freeze now, it was time for the plant’s life to end, so Karly even picked the green ones and canned them with jalapenos. Yum.
Saturday was the last day for the local farmer’s market, and we got some good late-season vegetables, including a butternut squash (that doesn’t seem to be as much of an item here as it was in New York’s Southern Tier). It’s not time for a fireplace yet, and part of me wishes we had one. It’s also time for chili, hot tea, and maybe more coffee than usual. A recent spending spree on syrup flavors for drinks was extravagant. These will last us well past the winter!
Not having a live TV service has more pluses than minuses, but we haven’t been able to watch much baseball this year. We were on the other hand happy to find out that we can get the Fox channel with an antenna and have been enjoying the World Series, another sign of fall. The second game in L.A. was exciting; Saturday night’s game in Houston brought some great moments; and Sunday night’s slugfest was pretty intense. A Saturday night commentator mentioned the chill in the Houston air, and I recalled amusement at South Texas students who donned light jackets when it dipped below 80. (“We get cold!” a bass trombonist told me with a smile, while sweat was still dripping from my brow in November.) You might notice the lack of a mention of football here. I simply don’t care about it as a national occupation and rather feel that the marching band ought to be viewed as the central act of a high school or college football game.
Since I spend half the year too warm, I do like chilly weather—if it’s clear and not too windy, that is. Brisk walks to work in the morning can occur for a month or two. Something tells me it’s going to be a cold winter with more snow than last. Since my little truck is rear-wheel drive, and there are real hills here in town, it might be better to plan on walking to work in boots instead of driving.
We turned the heater on 3 days ago and dug out jackets and coats we hadn’t seen in a few months. Strange noises outside remind me that I need to chop a weed-become-tree so it doesn’t scrape the side of the house as the branches move with the wind. Better get out the space heaters. We don’t need a plug-in heater for the car engine blocks here, but I do wonder when I last had the anti-freeze flushed and filled.
Where we live, the wind has been kicking up lately. It ’bout blew me off the road coming home from Oskie a week ago. Motorcycle season is about over, and my bike sprocket was recently severed from the axle in the wind and cold. An acquaintance who frequents our bookstore and often regales us with regional tales made a comment about the wind coming from Alaska. In an odd mood, I regaled him right back with something about the linguistic connection of wind and breath and Spirit, Hebrew ruach and Greek pneuma, and the interesting convergence of physical and spiritual realities, you know, with what Jesus told Nicodemus about the wind and all, i.e., that no one sees the wind’s origin. He was silent for about four seconds, affirmed vaguely, and then cast his eyes back in the direction of an Alaska photo book.
I’m still not sure what season of life I’m in, but it seems like late fall at times, and my father may be heading into a final winter. Spring is marvelous, but sometimes it seems good to embrace the cold, looking full into the wind.¹ Warmth, shelter, and a looking-beyond faith are not to be taken for granted in any season.
¹ This is the imagery of Craig Smith’s song “Spirit Wind.” The song once inspired me a lot but has left me out in the cold lately.