The Great Pumpkin

Mornings and afternoons bring slanted sunlight, illuminating the edges of all things, and we all glow brighter as the days grow shorter. Everywhere in my garden, and in the treetops outside our windows, I see the grandmothers. The garden spiders who arrived as small as the seeds we planted, have witnessed this years growth and now they too, are full grown. While in corners and crevices lie the torn remains of webs abandoned, they hang in the midst of orbed beauty, heavy and waiting, at their fullness as they reach their end.

Chrysanthemums offer fire, a hearth for all small things to warm themselves by in the dimming eve. They will sit on the altar for the happy dead, as old friends, loved ones, relatives draw near for Dias de los Muertos. We will offer them blooms, mums and roses, so the scent will help them find their way, and we will present them with foods to entice them to stay and visit for just the shortest while. On the first day will come the animals and children, on the second will come the adults. It is not morose nor frightening, but a celebration of love and of life beyond. We hope to begin creating the altar tomorrow. (I will write more and share ideas and tutorials as the month goes on).

We are still spending time in the garden. Looking at the brown curling chard and the fading blossoms of the clary sage can feel a little melancholy. As it goes with any loss, the longer we hold our gaze on what was, rather than what is, the narrower our scope of perception grows. So as we say goodbye to the glory of the spring and summer, we still dig our hands in soil, letting the undergrowth and the earth remind us of the goodness of cycles. We plant clover to fix the nitrogen, we scatter seeds with wishes for literal and metaphorical spring blooms and we press garlic bulbs into the fertile dark, sinking into relief that the frenzy of summer is over. We are ready for recuperation, for peace, for quiet time within, for nesting and nestling.

Because this is California, and particularly because this is San Francisco, we reap harvest along with falling leaves. After waiting a whole season, we are rewarded All At Once with tomatoes, and this batch above went into the dehydrator. It will be our fourth batch. They don’t last long…half end up in my gullet before they even get in the jar. I might get an ulcer, but I could eat them all day, everyday. There are also more green beans for pickling. And even the dog has something to share.

This is like, one/ one thousandth of how much he is shedding. I pulled all this out by hand. His entire mane came out. He’s about two sizes smaller already. His undercoat is ridiculously soft and I’m keeping it this year to be made into yarn. Really. I want a Leo scarf.

The little red wagon is definitely the new preferred mode of transportation. It is great for hauling things as well. This weekend it served to lug pumpkins for 6 blocks (oh how I wish I’d had my camera for that trip! Three pumpkins and a baby…we were a parade, almost enough to distract from the war machines ripping the skies apart above our heads), soil and starts from Hayes Valley Farm and Kitchen Gardens SF for 10-10-10 and on more than a few occasions, the dog.

Earlier evenings are celebrated with pumpkin moonshines. Fern’s godmama, Kerri, spent Saturday with us and carved pumpkins…an undertaking far greater than originally planned. But as we began to design our masterpieces, Kerri had the astute observation that, if we didn’t get carving toolkits from the corner store, then we were “going to have some booty-ass pumpkins”. So four hours later we lowered tea lights into our creations and brought them into a dark bedroom as Fern got ready for bed. Each night, we go outside as the sun goes down and the stars come up, and say goodnight to our little lanterns, and to city hall, which looks like The Great Pumpkin in the midst of the city.

(I found out that it is lit with orange lights to celebrate the Giants in the playoffs. Far less romantic than I originally thought, so I’m sticking to my story that it’s a pumpkin. She can learn about baseball later).

How are you celebrating October?


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