Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Nature Center's spooky nature trail was Saturday.  

Monica was veiled and carrying a lantern, silently and spookily relighting the jack o' lanterns that lined the paths.  Nico was a wood sprite on the loose and Porter lurked in the dark, as invisible as a gray forest rock in my old cloak.

When people approached, he rose from the obscurity and stepped forward -- intoning a grave warning that he had composed:

Stop -
The path ahead is scary
for up ahead you will meet a shiny head,
so traveler be wary.

Traveler I do not wish to harm,
but only to warn
that up ahead there will be no choice to turn back.

So I'm giving you the choice now.
Turn back or go on through the web . . . . 

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's Monica's birthday and the boys and I took her out for dinner at Passion Coffee House in New London.  

It was a traditional Colombian feast that we will be eating for days to come. 

Mmmmmmmmmmm . . . . 

The Antioquenos have a proud tradition, recalentado, and the translation of "leftovers" just doesn't do justice to the art form. 

Mmmmm again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Orionids

The earth is passing through the ribbons of detritus that Haley’s comet leaves strewn along its orbit – so the Orionid meteor shower was on.  At 10:30 Orion is somewhere behind the oaks, but a meteor streaked up between the Milky Way and the Pleiades, just above the trees, so I chose there to look.  I sat in the yard with the black cat companionably beside me and as I gazed at the sky we listened to the leaves upon the ground.  They rustle as each one curls up in passage from autumn gold to brown leaf litter. 

Though I could see my breath even against the starlight, tree frogs were still croaking from their barky redoubts.  Thin, checkerboard clouds rose insistently from the southwest.  An owl hooted excitedly to the east.  A pack of coyotes yowed and yipped in the distance.  The black cat paid them a momentary attention.  Before the clouds swallowed up the Pleiades completely I was rewarded with a great arcing meteor, just trimming the tops of the trees across the northeast.  It left an afterimage upon my eyes and I went in to bed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Porter strolled past with the clunky watch he always wears and Monica and I started talking about how cool watches were when you were 11 years old.  I tried to remember when I'd stopped wearing (or even carrying) watches.  And that made me think of one of the handful of crimes I've committed.

It was in a small college course at Penn -- a language and philosophy class I think.  And in the middle of the seminar a piercing, beeping alarm went off.  A girl to the side of me fumbled with her watch, turning bright red as the beeping continued.  The Professor pointedly paused his incomprehensible lecture about Wittgenstein and stared at her as the increasingly desperate girl struggled to shut it off.  At some point I realized that she wasn't going to succeed, because the beeping was actually my own watch alarm coming from the bag by my feet.  But the sound was hard to localize and I knew that it was about to cease on its own, so I opted ignominiously to stare with the rest of the class at the girl for another few painful moments.

The first crime that I remember was stealing from Melvin Alleman in Kindergarten.  The teacher had unrolled long rolls of brown paper onto the floor for us to paint on.  It was near Halloween and we created a parade of monsters and fantastical creatures.  The boys painted one and the girls another.  A day or two later they had dried, and the two "murals" were given out as prizes for something or other.  I won one and Melvin won the other.  The problem was that I had won the girls mural.  Melvin sat in front of me with the boys' mural rolled up in the basket under his seat.   It was a less enlightened era and I had no interest in the girls or their mural.  I fell to temptation and somehow surreptitiously switched the two.

For years afterwards, until my parents finally threw it away,  that roll of brown paper up in the attic with its smudgy, peeling and cracking monsters would remind me of my crime against dim, kind-hearted Melvin.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In case you thought this morning's frost was made up of nothing more than tiny, jagged crystals . . . .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We took the long weekend in Vermont to catch the golden end to the autumn leaves.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's a quiet evening at home. Last night's wind has given way to a clear, cool night.
Monica is reading aloud to Nico a manga version of Romeo and Juliet.

Porter has finished his homework and is engrossed in a novel of dragons and boy-kings. The snake is coiled in his den, the guinea pig is munching in his little cot. The cats roam the dark.

Monday, October 5, 2009

After Saturday's downpours, Sunday was clear and warm and full of priceless, late-season sunshine. We spent the afternoon at the winery's harvest festival with Jiri and Sarka and their boys. We all plucked sweet red grapes from a vine. Like the seasons last hummingbirds, the four boys ran and drank Mexican sodas and sucked on honeystraws, and ran some more. Porter merrily stomped grapes in an open half cask. Nico and Jacob danced in front of the band. Showmen both, they soaked up cheers from the crowd, while Porter shook his head.

Monica finished work at 4 and joined us for a drink of wine, a tostada, and then we were dancing into the dusk.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Charles and Patty eventually brought Nico and Anya back from their friend Indy's birthday party. (Nico reckoned sadly, that now he's the only remaining 7-year old in 3rd grade.) The kids, including Estelle and Porter were full of plans and energy, but all parents were tired from a long week of turgid family logistics. So we shooed off Patty toward home to have a bath and plied Charles with beer. (the Sam Adam's Imperial Stout I bought is too strong, but combined with a Wolaver's ale it makes for a fine black and tan.) And Monica brought out mushrooms salvaged from the Nature Center's festival to make an impromptu pasta dinner.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Went out last night for some music at URI -- Odaiko New England, a band of taiko drummers.

I think the bones of my skull may still be resonating.

Friday, October 2, 2009

After 10 weeks with us, Alberto departed for California -- his two bags packed, his pension full in his pocket. A few last cool, pretty days to give him a dash of autumn -- but nights were dipping to the 30's to give him extra impetus. Now no one will spoil the cats with tinned food and the kitchen will no longer magically clean itself. And the stories have stopped.

For occupation and exercise, he neatly stacked for us two cords of wood, but now we have a third.