Tuesday, October 27, 2009


There's a golden glow everywhere here. The trees continue in briliant leaf, our reward or compensation for a cold wet summer, whose weather was ideal for trees but hard on farmers and local markets and any sense of optimism, and...

The enormous two hundred or whatever it is year-old elm that towers over the house is in the most glowing yellow colour it has ever worn. Beneath it the crabapple tree (sorry, don't know the variety) that fills our small front yard spreads its arms like a golden embrace. The branches are dark, especially after a rain of course, and the leaves just glow in contrast. SOme have fallen so the ground, too, is aglow. The front of the house faces east, so mornings are radiant with the trees in leaf, even when the sun doesn't shine, and even more so in the office, on the second floor, which is a golden yellow too (at least the bits of wall that show at the edges of bookshelves!).

The heart lifts with all this beauty. And perhaps even more so because it is ephemeral? Hard to say.

The was a foretaste of the next months yesterday as I heard the sound of a plough scraping and bumping down the street. Wha..a..a..t? And what was it? Yes, it was indeed a city truck with a plough, scraping its way down the street, at the edge of the sidewalk... yes, you guessed, it, ploughing up the fallen leaves! How strange. And a bit of a chilling reminder of real ploughing and the white stuff that will soon fall.

But today is again soft and hazy, so colours glow. The ivy on the coachhouse is gradually turning, so there remain touches of green and hot yellow as the advanced leaves are tinted with orange and red, a wall of nature's colour. It's been a green wall all summer, filling the view out the back door and radiating a sense of life back into the house. Now it radiates light, magically and beautifully, changing light.

Yesterday I was out there in the back yard (a small enclosed space, framed by the ivied back wall and the house), digging up part of the garden, some of the vegetable part of the garden. i hate to dig things under or pull them out unless they are truly gone, so that means that there are still some straggly tomato plants, (dotted with a few green fruits) and chile pepper plants as well as parsely and garlic chives, but the shiso has gone, the epazote, and a lot of the tomatoes (the ones that got hit with mildew). The earth was dark and rich and full of worms. Once I've dug under the rest, I'll add manure (bought, not found, unfortunately) and maybe dig it in a little, but basicaly leave it until spring.

All this digging up is the way to do things. My granddad would be appallled at my hesitancy, but I do hesitate. I hate to discourage or disturb the volunteers and the survivors - the shiso seeds, the tomatoes, the parsley, that come back on their own. It's a silly attitude, for survivors survive better if the soil is fed and turned and aerated. Just letting it sit there is not doing things a favour, and certainly doesn't lead to vigorous growth of the tomatoes next year. It's with exhortations like that that I get myself out there with the shovel!

Digging was a nice sequal to hearing a talk by the charismatic Dr. Vananda Shiva the other day. The theatre was packed, the audience rapt, as she talked about saving seeds, the attack on the planet by agribusiness, the wisdom of local farmers, the insanity of seed patents... Do go to hear her if you get a chance. And by the way, there was a question put to her about vegetariansim: she said, yes, "I am a vegetarian because to me dal and vegetables are much more tasty." She went on to say that eating a little meat is fine, "if you like it". (We eat meat, and have signed on for seven pounds of meat a month, a small meat share at a meat CSA (Twin Creeks Farm). But we rely on dal and vegetables. The kids cook most of the meals, and dal is such an easy option that it's usually on the menu at least twice a week. Usually some vegetable or other gets added with the seasonings, and there might be another veg dish or two on the side, all served with rice usually. I could happily eat dal every day; it's always so comforting and inviting.)

On another topic, I've been on foot - can you say "unbiked" as you can say "unhorsed"? - for the last two weeks. On my way back from holding the fabulous baby (see the October 19th post) my rear bike tire was suddenly flat with that horrible squelch-squelch sound. I had a pump with me, but it could do nothing; clearly there was a huge hole. So I started walking, quite resigned. The tires after all have been on the bike since 1986, when we cycled over the Karakoram Highway from Kashgar to Hunza, so I can't complain if something has given out!

And then in one of those serendipity-can-come-out-of-downers moments, as I was plodding past a restaurant on Harbord I spotted two friends sitting by the window dining with a few other people. I leaned the bike against the window and went in for some conversation and laughter and a glass of wine. The gift of the flat tire, that's what the evening became.

Since then, though, I have failed to get the tire fixed: bought an inner tube but it was the wrong size... etc etc. Finally today I carried tire and wheel to Urbane Cyclist, bought a new tube and a new wheeel (the rubber WAS a little tired after all these years!) and now I have two wheels, two working wheels, again. Hurrah!

But speaking of feet, it seems to be a day for shoes... not just the running shoes (now getting a little worn) that I wear each morning for my run (today a ramble through Queens Park searching out the biggest and most gloriously coloured trees). I put a bag of running shoe discards out this morning to go with the garbage or be picked over by passers-by. Others had the same idea I guess, for down the street today I came on two odd-looking pairs of shoes, platforms, yikes! And a hundred feet beyond them, parked neatly side by side on the sidewalk stood two glamorous red satin shoes with high slender wooden heels, a pair. Were they waiting for a wearer? an anonymous art piece? abandoned by some Cinderella when her bicycle appeared?

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