Kage Baker loved Autumn. It wasn’t her favourite season – that was Summer, when she could happily live on the blazing edge of heat prostration, and try to transmute into a salamander. But she did enjoy Autumn, when she could enjoy the changing colours of the trees, wear even more sweaters, and look forward to the holiday season.
For us, the holiday season ran from October 1st to January 1st, with festive stops for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Kage felt that was pretty good horological planning on the centuries of time-keepers who have fine tuned the calendar since Julian’s got kicked out. I held that most of it was probably coincidental, but she blithely informed me that time is deep and has strange currents.
Regardless of whether this is due to the wobble in the Earth’s rotation or the attention of partying elementals, the season has indeed changed here in the Los Angeles Basin. (Whatever is going on the San Fernando Valley is weird and out of my pay grade.) The nights are chill, the days are cool, the air is perfumed with the scents of stone and water, and the spice of drying leaves. It’s time to consider actually baking and roasting things in the oven; time to hunt up all the bread and pie recipes we’ve clipped out over the summer and stashed in various books.
We’re already on our second change of holiday lights. White and yellow lights have been added to the red and orange of Halloween, to give a more Harvest Home ambience; we have fewer grotesqueries inhabiting the porch. And there is now also the nightly skunk and raccoon show, as the carefree summer foragers shift to scavenging peanuts and birdseed off the porch. Winter is coming, after all.
Geese are flying overhead twice a day, going to and from the local ponds, pools and reservoirs where they like to spend their summer days. Soon, most of them will take off for wherever they intend to spend the winter; somewhere near Cabo, Kage believed. Until they sort it out, we are treated to the sweet, wild sound of their cries as they pass over head – you can call it honking itf you like, but if you do, I can only conclude you have never actually heard wild geese in flight. They are the very voice of Autumn, and they make even my tired old blood stir and leap with longing …
Kage would be transfixed when they flew overhead, which they did low and swift when we lived in the North. They were often so low that we could hear their wing beats, loud and strong as oarsmen beating their way to shore. Kage would freeze where she stood, her head tilted up to follow their passage, leaning back so far her hair flew out behind her like a banner on the wind. I’d be half afraid she would rise up and vanish, following them. Afterwards, she would hurry indoors and write like a madwoman for hours.
I haven’t been writing like a madwoman today – I am not as helplessly soul-bound to the peripheral currents of the turning world as Kage was. However, neither am I a stolid rock. I have vowed to keep this blog more regular, and am determined to do so. Also, I am resolutely writing my daily portion of my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, which is progressing satisfactorily quickly. So far, anyway. I have yet to meet the dreaded and habitual block that occurs around day 15.
The change in the season makes me very happy, too. The light is more beautiful in Autumn, aged and antique, outlining and thickening what it illuminates even as the trees grow lean and bare. The hills are golden; later, if it ever rains, they will be dun-coloured and monastic. But right now they are still rich and carpeted in wild grasses, that move like wild goose wings under the cold wind.The roses in my front yard are blooming one last time for the year. This year’s newest squirrels are re-enacting Fast and Furious in the tree outside the living room windows. It’s all very Hallmark.
That’s why Kage liked it so – we don’t get snow here, and very rarely frost, but the Autumn is nonetheless deep in classic display. Besides, she was always about 20 degrees colder than me, so our gentler Autumns were better for her. She damn near died when we lived in Northern California, and even in Pismo Beach she started wearing two or three sweaters by Halloween.
I’m still usually barefoot. And I miss her scolding me for doing it, too.
Well, Dear Readers. This has been a meandering sort of blog. Obviously, part of my brain is following the geese away into the dark under the stars.
Autumn is for reminiscence, too.
Cutting edge 17th century horological device.