Saturday, October 30, 2010


The big winds of autumn came blowing through this week, whisking leaves off branches... The weather people gave us warning about the winds, so the morning before they swept in, I went for my run with an extra awareness that the glowing colours in the trees, the aureole of light that seems to radiate from them, are temporary and that I should make my farewells. As the wind picked up there were swirls of colour against the sky, tumbles of lovely gold and fawn and pink and orange and a kind of raspberry red from some kind of bush... It was all dazzling, a kind of fireworks of autumn in full daylight.

But we have not been completely bared: The ivy that covers the coachhouse out back is very sheltered and its large leaves turn a gorgeous colour, graduating from green to pink and pinksh yellow in the subtlest way. The leaves shimmer in the breeze, undulating in little unsynchronized waves of colour. And that's the lovely uplifting backdrop to life these days, for the leafed wall fills the view out the back windows of the house.

But outside things aren't as warm as that glowing colour. I ran in a windbreaker and fingerless wool gloves this morning, and long pants, and that was perfect. I did a long loop then stopped in at Kensington Market to buy a pumpkin (the view of the young people in the house is that we have a social responsibility to have a pumpkin for Hallowe'en, hand out treats, and generally participate - and I can't disagree). For $5.99 I got a huge slightly eccentric and knobby one that i could hold in my arms, just. So I lumbered on home with it, pausing at a couple of places to rest my arms. Next step of course is carving... I like to make two or even three faces on a pumpkin, with different expressions, and it's best if different people do different faces, for fun.

At this time of year Oaxaca has the Dia de los Muertes and in Fance it's the Toussaint holiday, All Saints' on November 1 and All Souls on November 2. So it's a time for thinking about those who have left us, and to appreciate the days years, minutes, hours that we have to engage with life and with each other.

I had a small personal jolt of that kind of reminder to enjoy life. A fall, but a lot harder than the fall of a leaf! It was just yesterday, as I was whooshing on my bike down a lane through the university. I caught a front tire on the edge of the curb, and over I went, sideways. Yikes! that's what jeans are for, I discovered. The denim ripped at the knee, but not a lot, and all I have (I did an inventory in the bathtub) is a burned/scraped patch below my knee and some bulging bruises, goose eggs I would call them, on a forearm, the other leg, one thigh. That's real luck. I could have broken a wrist or who knows what?

Yes, yes, "Ride with more care!" I hear you saying. But part of me loves the exhilaration of rushing along and nipping in and out and pushing myself and the limits of what I can do. It's a real adrenalin high.

And soon I'll be putting the bike to bed in the basement, for I'm heading to Thailand, and Burma too i hope, before the middle of November. So not only am I saying farewell to the leaves and the brilliant glow of autumn, but also to friends and family, for awhile.

This moment before leaving, when the "to-do" list gets long, can sometimes be a little anxious, heart-squeezing. But this time I've realised that it's up to me what I worry about. So if there's something I'm anxious about, I am trying to make sure that either I do it, or else I let it go with a "so what?" or some other letting-go phrase. It's working pretty well so far, this technique!

One of the to-do's was to tidy up the website. I'm doing two culinary tours this coming winter, from January 23 to 29 and then from January 30 to February 4 2011. For more info, please have a look at the Chiang Mai page of the website. I used to dread engaging with the tech in technology, but now I find I'm enjoying it. I could never have dreamed ten years ago that I'd feel this way. Robyn Ekckhardt persuaded me to tweet, so I'm now doing that as well, (@naomiduguid). And that's why I was talking about Twitter and e-technology generally, as a kind of hamster wheel in my last post, or the one before...

But if you're reading this you are probably way ahead of me with all this technology, not appalled by it at all, and using your i-phone or Blackbeerry fluently. I caught myself thinking this morning, during my run, that I should perhaps break down, spend the money, and engage with the I-phone. I could text and send photos and feel light about it? Would I? What do you do?

Right now I'm about to head north to say farewell to people in Grey County. There's a contra dance this evening at the Glenelg Township Hall, a lovely stone building with thick walls and wide window embrasures. It's important at these events to wear layers, so I can peel down to a sleeveless T-shirt as the room gets hot with the dancing. And then I'll have a long drive back to the city in the dark -more whooshing along, but less exhilarating than on a bicycle - so that I can wake up here in the morning, look out, and be warmed again by the glowing colours of the ivy out back.

Hope your Hallowe'en is pleasurable and that November looks promising in every way.

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