Last weekend we had the first sunny days in weeks (but it felt like months). So the Beav suggested we go walking on the river. Now, I know the ice is solid at this point. The snowmobiles are running up and down daily. But I lived in the heat too long as a child to be comfortable on frozen rivers and lakes and wasn’t keen on the idea.
Then he suggested we walk up a side creek he’d been wanting to canoe with his sister in the summer. This sounded less ominous: slower shallower water awaited if we broke through (which we wouldn’t and didn’t). This became our day.
This spring my garden asked to become a pumpkin patch and I said “sure” because why not? Now months later, the skies are greying, the nights come earlier and earlier each day. It’s colder, frost has fallen more than once and the harvest is finally in.
Last year when my Mom visited for Thanksgiving—Canadian Thanksgiving, in October, not the American holiday in November—we decorated my newly rebuilt porch with strange pumpkins and squash. I fetched a birch log from the wood pile, and we had a holiday arrangement that looked good enough to keep around for weeks rather than days.
After the first freeze though, everything sagged. So I went out, collected the soft fruit and tossed everything in the garden. Winter came. Then this spring, I went out to turn the soil and everything had broken apart and come to pieces. I saw seeds, but ignored them. They sprouted though, and I’ve kept them all, pushing them back off the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and rhubarb, but otherwise giving them free rein to do what they’d like.
So now I have acorn squash, regular pumpkins, white pumpkins, very strangely shaped and bright red pumpkins. I have acorn squash, some kind of yellow squash I don’t recognize. Maybe more even. And they are growing everywhere, even on the fences, producing improbable fruit and it’s exciting and encouraging.
There’s wisdom in leaving things alone, letting them be.
The neighbouring village had a temporary stoplight for a few weeks as road crews did some work on the bank of the river. Seeing as how the village is a sleepy, stop-signs-only kind of place, the change—I could get caught by a red light! Grrrr!—felt big time and sophisticated, especially since the light wasn’t around long enough to actually become annoying.
Stopped one day last week on my way home, I stared out over the fields rather than at the river. My mind was wandering around elsewhere, and so I only realized how beautiful the scene was as the signal flipped to green. There were cars behind me, but I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick pic before taking off.
The woods on Mont St. Hillaire have darkened and dulled to the hard green of late summer. They are ready now to crack apart into the bright yellow and brilliant orange of Fall. And so it is in the fields below.
The hay has been cut, the scrub tilled under, the manure thrown down. Dry corn rustles in the breeze, and here and there, lime has been spread across freshly turned soil, dusty and white, an early echo of late autumn snow.
In my neighbor’s garden, tomatoes dangle from the leafless stalks of wilted plants, gloriously fat and gloriously red. A pumpkin vine, clutching a trellis, props improbable fruit high into the air.
And the ducks fly overhead. And the river runs cool and clear.
The weeds in the garden have been growing, and after several days of hot sun, the tomatoes, cabbages and all the rest need a drink. So after mowing the grass, I pull out the young thistles and the worst of the clover and then hose everything down.
The shower spilling from the nozzle cools the air and coaxes a rainbow from hiding. A river feeds the spigot. Bright beads of water skip and race across waxy cauliflower leaves. I dip my hand in the pattering spray, wipe the back of my neck. Beneath it all, the cracked ground laps up its muddy brew.
The sensible beauty of this moment is astonishing.