Stellar Jays, down from the higher ridges and hills, scold me as I walk under the oaks. They are here for the water and the abundant acorns, I suppose. They come from the heights every year in the late summer.
Nights are in the 50s and days in the 70s – although standing in the early afternoon sun feels warmer, this is deceptive. It is chilly before dusk, which comes earlier every week.
The garden is less productive, although the surviving lettuces seem happier than they were. The beans are nearly played out while the tomatoes are in denial, blooming faster, I think, than they ripen. It takes hours of heat to ripen, fewer hours of light to bloom. The yellow jackets are getting more aggressive, which means that being in the garden can be hazardous if I don't time it for the chilly hours.
And I'd rather not, truth be told.
I'm thinking about broccoli and more lettuce, maybe see what cole crops will thrive in my flowerpots.
The sky has gone that glorious, deep September blue that I always associate with California.
I have other associations – there is a scent that happens in March in Michigan. It is new green shoots and thawed soil, turned up. It carries a hint of frost and a promise of warmth, and has a top note of sunshine and fresh air. In California, I smell that in late January or early February, and I'll say aloud (even if no one is near), “It smells like March.”
Here, in September, I can smell the ripening concord grapes. All my life I have waited through the year for that brief window of time when they are ripe in the fall. Then I become a glutton. This year I won't be eating any. Grapes have gone the way of Pizza and other foods that I no longer physically tolerate. It was the same for the summer blackberries – astonishingly abundant this year when I was eating none of them.
But I smelled them ripening in the July and August sunshine. I have smelled and watched them turn to seedy raisins on the brambles as the toyon and oaks around them ripened their own seeds.
The redwoods and firs (and the occasional pet pine) are resin-ating in their last late summer expressions before it cools and the saps are drawn to the roots. The birds are moving on. Mourning doves are all gone, migrating hummingbirds pass through beside flocks of robins and other thrushes. I think there may be some Bird Nature in me because I want to spread my arms and have them become wings so I can follow the summons to be south of here...
Instead I am diligently working on getting Trails and Trails End polished and through the last hoops of the publication process at KDP.
I am also amusing myself with Research for the Next Novel about the Haight-Ashbury Era. I consider this an Historical Novel, and so am creating (re-creating) the calendar of events and weather and lunations, movie and music releases. I'm making sure I have a solid framework to drape my narrative over so that the fantasy I spin will stand as believable. I can't give the DrogStore Cafe the wrong name or place it anywhere but the corner of Haight and Masonic. I am remembering slang we used and looking for those details which make it real to the readers. No one had cell phones, very few of the people I knew there even had landlines.
We had “dropped out” after all.
That is my winter project. This week it is still September, with achingly blue skies, stinging sunshine, cool breezes and nights that remind me that winter is coming.
Might be time for another blanket on the bed.