Friday, September 19, 2008

To Autumn

The light is starting to change. A few more gray days have crept into the daily routine. I sat outside the other night and wish'd for another layer. The tips of tree leaves are starting their beautiful dying process. In this season where death and disintegration is a rainbow of beautiful, I also watch things disintegrate in my life, big and small. I do not see the beauty yet, but perhaps it is apt that fall should join me in this journey and teach me how to glory in slow, beautiful death. Because, after all, the sacrifice these leaves are making is only so the glory of spring's life will be that much greater. I don't want to rush past fall and winter for that glory just yet, I will sit in the sad, crisp reality of the 'ber months. I will heed the dying process, but also heed the life that sneaks between, like apples, firepits, soup and the yellow light. Here's Keat's Ode to this beloved season.

To Autumn - by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skie

Monday, September 08, 2008

No Umbrellas Needed (except once)

I read this poem tonight, and I liked it because it's about Seattle. We just went to Seattle, Jeff and me. The only difference between this poem and our trip is that we didn't really seep too long in the gray rainy-ness. But before I say some words about our adventure, soak in these words for a few...

Black Umbrellas
by Rick Agran

On a rainy day in Seattle stumble into any coffee shop
and look wounded by the rain.

Say Last time I was in I left my black umbrella here.
A waitress in a blue beret will pull a black umbrella

from behind the counter and surrender it to you
like a sword at your knighting.

Unlike New Englanders, she'll never ask you
to describe it, never ask what day you came in,

she's intimate with rain and its appointments.
Look positively reunited with this black umbrella

and proceed to Belltown and Pike Place.
Sip cappuccino at the Cowgirl Luncheonette on First Ave.

Visit Buster selling tin salmon silhouettes
undulant in the wind, nosing ever into the oncoming,

meandering watery worlds, like you and the black umbrella,
the one you will lose on purpose at the day's end

so you can go the way you came
into the world, wet looking.

"Black Umbrellas" by Rick Agran from Crow Milk. © Oyster River Press, 1997. Reprinted from the Writer's Almanac

Our Seattle was a little less dreary, though not entirely shiny, but just as friendly. Coffeeshops felt warm and communal, restaurants seemed full of folks who enjoy good food. I loved the local ethic there, where practically every menu from the corner sandwich shop to Tom Douglas' latest joint was choc-full of local produce, meats and cheeses. If I were a restauranteur in the summer in Washington, I wouldn't know where to start with all the tasty gifts of the earth!

We tasted some wonderful things that came from a variety of sources: Blueberries from my uncle's yard were perfectly ripe, deep blue and delicious. Hundreds of blackberries weighed the boughs of some wild bush in a local park. We past it once on a sunny-day stroll, then I returned (for the lovely park sits right across the street from my uncle and aunt's house!) to grab for myself some of those midnight purple berries, gently loosening them from their stems, picking, then eating, picking then eating.

While wandering through Pike Place market in the heart of Seattle, we passed a vendor selling peaches. He sliced us a sample, selling his wares, doing well to convince me that being a Georgian doesn't give me the lock on fine, juicy peaches. I couldn't stop thinking about that peach, so the next morning, after a surprisingly authentic Pain au Chocolat at a local french bakery (a delight in of itself), I found the purveyor of peaches and $2 (yep...a pricey peach) later I had big sticky orange drops running down my chin. The price was steep, but that peach was bigger than any I've seen from Georgia or South Carolina, and of course it was organic and hand-picked and all that jazz.

Then there were those local wines we found in a small tasting parlour right off the ferry stop on San Juan Island. In truth, the grapes for the San Juan Cellars wines are taken from all over the state so they have a wide variety. I'm not sure if it was the kind sommeliers or the gorgeous afternoon, but we rightly enjoyed all those tastings and walked off with a few bottles (after all, you can't watch someone pour you tastes of 7 varietals and walk out empty-handed.)

If travel is a narrative, food memories always seem to be underlined for me.
In the meantime, feast your eyes on this basket of wonder from Ivar's on the waterfront.

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