Tag Archives: harvest

What I Brought Home

Summer comes hurtling towards earth on its heated equinox, an axis brought to a boil over months that travel at a fierce, flaming gallop.  Their intense progress swirls the sky into a seething panic.  And on its first day, the sun will bear night and day aloft at equal height, as Justitia holds the scales of justice.  The hours share the benefits of the new season, before autumn begins to claw its way towards its dark, harvest dominance.

I would venture out into the early summer evening, to watch the changing sky, the skeins of evaporating clouds, the caramel sun.  But when I returned, the only souvenirs I had were the constellations of mosquito bites on my arms and legs.  There was a cache of stars inside my elbow; burning recollections.  As I walked, I felt as if the remnants of that angry, heated day were seared into my skin…as if I carried shards of moons and stars back into my home.

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On Holiday

“Let us speak of the revels which are accustomed to be made on St. John’s Eve…”

– the monk of Winchcomb, 13th century

During the summer, the sky swerves and tilts on a new axis. It slides on its equinox like a child sliding down a stairway banister. Summer Solstice, bronzed as any sunbather, lingers high overhead, lingering in Cancer’s Tropic. The shadows of St. John’s Eve leach into the stones of Stonehenge and then are cast across the grasslands of Wiltshire. The stories and thoughts of the prehistoric builders are revealed – but no one has yet been able to read them.

At twilight, the whimsical sky is crowded with revelers. Constellations, long absent from the carnival stage, begin to arrive. A menagerie of holiday visitors – eagles (Aquila), swans (Cygnus), foxes (Vulpecula), horses with starry wingspans (Pegasus) dance an orbit to an astral harp (Lyra). The trace work of their steps pierces the indigo fabric in a metallic frost.

The astrological wheel turns along the summer ecliptics and celestial equators. When it stops, Sagittarius the centaur is rearing against the sky, pocked with nebulae and stars, shouldering his quiver of arrows. Scorpius, bright with novas and poison, waits. Libra, outlined with a distant harvest of blue, orange and red stars, prepares to carry its scales of justice and good behavior during the liveliest of seasons.

Sunsets are very gala. They are the color of sweet cocktails – honey and Benedictine, sangria with plums and nectarines, champagne and peach. They are warm and melting – coating the horizon with an invitation to an evening of celebrations.

During the carnival evenings, planets are eager to crowd into the sky. If the moon is curved into a crescent, they hang from her geometric grace like jewels. If the moon is full, wearing her summer colors – Strawberry, Rose or Red – she casts a cherry-colored cloak across her new neighbors. Mars and Saturn ride lowest on the horizon, drinking in the last of the sunset’s sugared alchemy. But Jupiter is bold and bright, sailing like a radiant ship towards the moon’s blushing presence.

When summer’s hot allure is exhausted, the sky revolves once more to reveal unfamiliar populations and landscapes that bend over a ripe solstice, a golden equinox heavy with crops. Constellations float in the thin, cold air: dolphins (Delphinus), fish (Pisces), whales (Cetus) swim in oceans kept full by the Aquarian water bearer. The full moon dons her working garb: Harvest, Hunter’s.

Breezes as chilly as lace curl like a fichu across the diamante bosom of the modest sky. They kick up gusts of meteors and shooting stars: the Orionids, the Taurids, The Leonids – even the final sweep of the Perseid meteor shower.

Stars that did not take these giddy rides are left behind, glittering and lonely in the cinnamon sky. They are scattered like the ribbons and furbelows of the departed revelers’ indulgences. They were the madcap reminders that tickled the crooked backs of the workers in the fields, the residues of warmth that whispered of the pleasures they had missed.

Thanksgiving Starts In September

It all started in September.
I was marketing with the Boyfriend, and at one point I stopped in mid-aisle to exclaim, “Where are the roasting pans?  It’s late September!  Where are the cranberries?”
You see, with the beginning of September, the first of the blessed quartet of 3-syllable months, my mind will turn to Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving, and all of its lovely panic-strewn preparations.  Thanksgiving, the fear, the food.  Thanksgiving and butter.  Thanksgiving and the only marathons that count – the ones on TV.
Now, previously, the holiday would either be a restaurant meal, where one could not ask for seconds, or ask why the gratinee on the potatoes was so flimsy.  (Such a crisp, cheesy roof should be in danger of crushing the entire building, for goodness’ sake.)  And if not at a restaurant, the other Thanksgiving alternative would be one at a relative’s or friend’s home – there, seconds would be available (possibly encouraged, depending on the friend/relative).  But there  one would pay for one’s boldness by helping to Clean Up.  Both of these meals would be full of thanks to be sure, but they would also last only a few hours: a mere nibble out of the year.  For me, when Thanksgiving is in someone else’s hands, the celebrations are always far too brief.
So, years and years ago, I decided to have the meal at my apartment.   And this brought about a paradigm shift in my perception of Thanksgiving.  Between shopping, cleaning and cooking, my prep work begins in October.  And I will begin to sniff around for new recipes in September (doubling my annoyance with the Halloween menus on the covers of all the cooking magazines.  What’s to plan?  Give me – or anyone, for that matter – a a vat full of Heath bars and I’m happy).
I trust the people I invite, so I use the good silver.  Fashion-shaming could make people uncomfortable, but I invariably will greet them at the door wearing a tiara and petticoats, but I mean no harm – so everyone gets a corsage or buttonhole.   Oh, and the secret handshake, obviously.
So, it is therefore safe to say that my Thanksgiving lasts for 3 months.  As a result of this elasticization of the holiday, of this metaphoric conversion into an easy-fit stretch band, I will be sore, weak, and often ill from being maid-of-all-work for such a distance of time.  My sciatica will be erupting.  But it is still glorious.
eating2
Now, I hope this won’t frighten people away from Thanksgiving.  Because no matter how you choose to celebrate this peculiarly American and hedonistic day, please make sure that you do.   For this day was not made to be joyless.

The Nature Of The Feast

Saigyo said (and I only know that he did so, because J.D. Salinger quoted him):

“What it is I know not
But with the gratitude
My tears fall”

Now, many people, both here and distant, have seen fit to make fun of our innocent November holiday.  They say that it is a shallow thing, a mere celebration of overeating and television marathons.

Which of course it is.

But there is another, overlooked, word in that accusation: ‘celebration’.  And therein lies the real meaning of this particular day.  For Thanksgiving is not twisted about with politics or religion – it is uncontaminated with those things.  Instead, it is a celebration of the harvest:  in my case the harvest from Ralph’s and Whole Foods.  It is a celebration of the food you are lucky to see on your plate.  It is a celebration of the people sitting next to you and sitting across from you.    It is such a simple thing.  You are giving thanks for friends and family – people you care for most in the world that you have been able to gather together.  You are giving thanks for the 4 cups of heavy cream I will be putting in my potatoes gratin – thanks that such an act is still legal in the United States.

My mother is Jewish, my father is ½ Italian – perhaps it is in my blood to express affection with food.  But I can’t be positive about the relationship between DNA and dining.  Still, a heavy, festive table is a beautiful thing.

So is a James Bond marathon – parents and Boyfriend have been warned that this will be playing All Day.

A day of Thanksgiving – for all things, anything you can think of – is a pure holiday:  full of emotions so unsullied that indeed tears of gratitude will indeed fall.  And yet giving thanks is so easy to do:  anyone can take part!

By definition, Thanksgiving is a gathering of your own personal, wonderful people, your marvelous families.  It is a day to share the bounty.  Not STARE at, share.  Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for all that you have.  And that is the nature of the feast.

Thanksgiving-young Rita Hayworth

Happy Thanksgiving, you darling people.

Scattered Vows

For the past two days I had been sick, the victim of blocked sinuses – the spaces felt like they had been reduced to the circumference of a neutron.  I should probably had stayed home from work for one day more, but the thought of spending another day mentally tracing each breath as it meandered its slow and tortuous way through my nasal cavities was more than I could endure.

I was driven to work today.  And as I got out of the car, something made me stand still, gasping with surprise.  It wasn’t my sinuses rebelling at the shock of fresh air.  It wasn’t my renewed astonishment at the bright yellow paint of my office building.

It was the wind.

Not a fey Spring wind, green and delicate.  Not a Summer wind, sweaty and bronzed, like the bodies on the beach.  It was an Autumn wind, swimming down from cold and distant currents.  It held the promise of Winter’s chilly bite but remained playful, like a kitten sheathing its claws before it pretends to attack.

As I continued to stand, the leaves began to fall – the powder that revealed the print of the sudden wind.  They gave their scent to the wind – dark and earthy; cold to the touch.  They seemed to spin around me; chasing and teasing.  I felt a twinge of guilt at glorying in their death, in their skin the color of sepia…but it was all Nature’s symbol of Fall, of the eternal harvest, and there was beauty there, too.

I stood transfixed, reluctant to move away from this sudden circular advent that danced around me.  The wind whispered of the future:  of early darkness, of amber sunsets that burned low and small beneath a heavy twilight, of air as crisp as autumn fruit.

I took in all its scattered vows, holding them close.  Then, carrying my invisible bouquet, I went to work.

missautumn

A String of Pearls

It seems that during this fallen month the light has been impatient to descend from the sky, from its burning home, the dying summer planet.  Before the horizon melts into continents of bronze and crimson – a passionate cartography – the radiance has already settled like beads of sweat, like a string of pearls, on all earthly, waiting objects.

Tree Lighting

 A telephone wire, drumming with voices, is transformed into an illuminated rope – a shining cord eager to decorate the chattering world in its holiday embrace.  It stretches for miles, a carefree reminder that the day is weary, the year is ending and a new season has arrived, coating the months in droplets of its sweet, golden light.

Electric Wire

The overeager radiance wraps around the lines like Autumn’s DNA, rich and bright.  It glows with life: linked baubles with the veneer of harvests, of feasts…an alchemy of joy.  In that time of year when both sun and moon appear at once in the sky – the one growing weaker as the other becomes stronger – light becomes a solid, thick with color and meaning.  It merges with the earth, it sinks into the ground, and makes the world a golden circle of celebration.

Gratitude

There's a tree that I notice every morning, because it takes pity on me.  During the autumn days it murders its chlorophyll for me and lets its cadaver leaves turn red and yellow.

Because it knows that I'd prefer it, this tree will let those crisp leaves fly – although there is no breeze to lead them on a wintry dance.  And when they reach the ground, they weave a starry carpet for me to walk on.

This sympathetic tree colors itself cranberry, pumpkin, ginger and cinnamon – the scents of a harvest kitchen.  It must be difficult – and a little heart-breaking – to voluntarily drain the life out of its green blood, but I find its efforts rather touching.  It stands alone amongst its vibrant neighbors and is not ashamed to lift its rebellious head to the censorious sun.

There is much that this tree has sacrificed:  the living filigree of veins in its arms and fingers, the web of nerves in every limb – enabling it to feel every creature that visited its arboreal dark – the shine of perennial youth.  All this it relinquished so that I could imagine its life on chilly acreages and forget the audacious growh all around me.

 

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Hog For The Holidays

I generally tend to ignore motorcycles.  To me they are loud and uninteresting, like so many things in Los Angeles.

But when a motorcycle decides to truss itself up for the holidays, I feel that I must reassess my opinion. 

Walking home from work today I noticed that the bike was gone, leaving its autumnal accoutrements behind.  I rather believe that its owner rode his bike out, after parting the pumpkins carefully – and when he returns he will just as carefully pile them high once more.

People must find their holidays where they can. 

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