08 October 2003

Today was a perfect October day, with gray skies and thick clouds against which the Golden Rabbitbush along the sides of the winding mountain roads are even more stunning than usual. (Tiska gave me a book of flowers, so I can learn some names!) I love the October combination of so many grays behind the vivid yellows and oranges and reds of the autumn leaves and flowers. Apparently it was actually flooding in Albuquerque, it was pouring so hard, but up in the East Mountains it was more drizzly and spitty than rainy. (I’m listening to an autumn mix I made in 1999, and appropriately Simon & Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song” comes on: I hear the drizzle of the rain / like a memory it falls / soft and warm continuing / tapping on my roof and walls....)

In rain, the mountains are amazing. From a distance, they turn dark, growing into shades of indigo and navy, but often they’re mostly obscured by the clouds that drape themselves across the inky peaks and ruffles like carelessly tossed jackets. (Joni Mitchell’s “Rainy Night House” comes on next – this obsession with October rain is nothing new with me.) Often, driving from Moriarty back west to Tijeras and Cedar Crest, I watch the mountains and have to tell myself that they’re not just clouds; when we were kids, we always pretended that piles of afternoon clouds sitting on the horizon were Wisconsin mountains, and now I have to remind myself that this rumbling horizon really is made of stone and not air. Today, though, I had to promise myself that there were indeed mountains beneath the thick piled clouds.

It was cool enough that I could wear a cardigan all day! I went by myself to Moriarty, had to take both Sarah (the bearded dragon) and Kernel (the corn snake) in my truck, and since they got front seat privileges, everything else had to go in the back. Jennie was at the ABQ store all day, so I spent the entire day by myself at the Cedar Crest store, then at the center in Tijeras, the afternoon in Moriarty, and then back at my office in Cedar Crest. I had a very Type-A kind of day, and so when Jennie finally got up to Cedar Crest around 5:00, I had accomplished a ridiculously large amount of work. Then I came home (luckily Danielle got the message I left on our machine this morning and closed all our windows before it started to rain in earnest!), scoured the kitchen, spent too much time and far too much money at the grocery store (and learned that, similar to how you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, you also shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re feeling all nostalgic about midwestern autumns past, because you’ll end up with way too many apples and too much cheese and bread and apple cider and squash and merlot in your basket), came home and channeled my inner-soccer-mom and made a huge batch of puppy chow for the East Mountain Health & Wellness Coalition meeting Thursday night, and then took Zeke on a long puddle walk through the dark, pretty streets.

Of the whole day, the one moment that really stays with me is from just after work, when I stopped for gas just down the road from the store. A little more than mist, and less than rain, the late afternoon was all gray wraiths snaking up from the valleys and twisting through the trees. Where the clouds parted, I could see the stones in the hillside, mossy green and in appearance very much like the quartzite bluffs of southern Wisconsin. I hugged my cardigan around me, listening to the sshhhhing of the yellow aspens and cottonwoods. No more than that; just one moment of peace in a world of flurry.

...and this season lasted one moment, like the pause
between dusk and darkness, between fury and peace,
but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.

– from Derek Walcott’s “The Season of Phantasmal Peace”

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