After work I should have walked home all the way. Instead I felt sluggish and heavy somehow, and couldn’t summon the enthusiasm to schlep along for 66 blocks with the usual assortment of Mason jars, library books, and everything else. At first I chalked it up to this morning’s building fire alarm malfunction at 2:30 am. Thank God, there was nobody hurt and no sign of fire. After the initial fright of it all, we neighbors stood outside for an hour in our jammies with cat carriers and dogs, happy to chat and call greetings under the moon, until the all-clear sent us back to bed. At 6:00 I was still awake and thinking when the alarm clock rang for work.
But no, this draggy energy level had an even better reason. I discovered it later at home, during a routine look at the weather. My! No wonder the bus was pleasantly empty, and so were the streets.
But first I caught a bus to cover all but the last 25 blocks home and sat unsuspecting at the window, marveling at the particularly pleasant amber glow of the late afternoon light. Our professional news photographers are sure to come up with wonderful scenes to post on line tomorrow.
Near the hilltop I hopped off and started walking the rest of the way.
A look through the tall iron cemetery fence showed no promise of nice photographs. Nothing was in bloom. Summer has been almost completely dry, lingering on and on with no sign of our usual heavy September rains; they’re a good six weeks late. Leaves this year are not showing their usual fall color; they are only crisping up and falling to crunch into powder underfoot. On the flowering cemetery ornamentals there was not a bloom in sight. The manicured lawn had shrunk into separate brown blocks of matted turf, curling at the edges like worn linoleum.
Still, I ventured in the gates hoping that a little stillness and attention might lead to something good.
The sun was setting so fast that I chased it west all the way down the hill to view the light in the lower plots first. One small tree did show a few bright leaves against the rapidly dimming sky.
At the bottom of the hill, I trudged back up toward the entrance, turning every few steps to try more pictures, gaining altitude to keep the sun in view.
Here was a pumpkin offering, set on the headstone for a beloved husband. The right side of his stone beside his name is smooth and clear of lettering; perhaps it was his wife who came to bring him this little gift. From this elevation, the sun was a larger pumpkin radiating from the top of that tall building.
A memory gift.
Here’s a look back as light runs away in the distant wildfire haze.
The haze was silent. Not a leaf rustled; there was no breath of breeze. The usual rush hour pedestrians and traffic were nowhere. Over the valley to the west, the only sound was a pleasant shimmering scarf of musical chords plaiting in together; the bright hard tones sounded like the flashes of glare striking the granite and marble all around. It took a while to place the sound as some major ensemble of brass instruments, rehearsing across the valley at the campus stadium. Up the hill to the east, just as I was heading home a different sound filtered from the trees; white-crowned sparrows were calling back and forth, checking in.
It was dark when I got home and checked the weather and air quality. Then, here was a text from the Wing Family, asking me to stop by. They handed me a whole basket of my own tomatoes, wrapping up the harvest for the summer. This afternoon the squirrels were so busy in my garden square that Mrs. Wing ran out and gathered every last tomato remaining on the bushes, right down to the smallest greenest ones. Then she dug up my bushes and put them in the compost. Captain Wing is out there right now with his miner’s lamp and tweezers, removing slugs from my sweet potatoes. The slugs are really small; I don’t find them under my sweet potato leaves even in broad daylight. Does he listen for them? At any rate, he told me to get right indoors and out of the smoke. These industrious people! There must be something tasty I can make for them out of all these tomatoes. Will have to research this.
Here’s the whole ensemble; old urban cemetery, with a farewell flash of reflected granite light.
In three days, we’ll get a cold front with high winds and two inches of rain. A great blessing for the firefighters. Goodbye to a curiously long summer-without-fall.