Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pumpkin time #phenology

It's time to go shopping for pumpkins. For the past few years there have been pumpkins photographed in front of the house on or about October 7. What I don't recall is where we got some of the more interesting ones pictured below. Those were among the ones most favored by our local whitetails five or six weeks after they were put out. You know, they taste better when aged and subjected to frosts. At least they served a good purpose and saved us from having to haul them to the compost pile.

October's front porch pumpkin patch
October's front porch pumpkin patch
Photo by J. Harrington

With the weather we've had the past few days, cool mornings, warm afternoons, rain at night, I might be talked into foregoing four seasons if it stayed like this year round. Mornings filled with mists thick enough to make it a challenge to spot the ghosts, ghouls, goblins and others who will begin prowling in a few weeks. Crisp leaves piled underfoot that fail to make crunching sounds as they're traversed by those whose materiality is on the questionable side. I think that, after the pumpkins are in place, it will be time to arrange for treats to help minimize tricks come All Hallow's Eve. (Truth be known, in the more than twenty years we've lived here, I don't think we've had one Trick-or-Treater come to the door. Neither do we have an outhouse that could be tipped over. That may explain the lack of costumed urchins come each end of October.)

mid-October colors framing a local pond
mid-October colors framing a local pond
Photo by J. Harrington

Local colors are coming on strong, although this morning it seems the leaves no sooner showed color than they dropped from their branches to be wind-blown and carried across fields, onto decks and along driveways and roadsides. The dogs seem to think the blowing leaves have been put there entirely as playmates to be chased and/or herded. Blowing leaves may be one of the few times dogs seem to rely more on their sense of sight than their sense of smell. Have you ever wondered if dogs have a library of mental images to go with smells of things they've never seen?

The Problem


By Jane Hirshfield


You are trying to solve a problem.
You’re almost certainly halfway done,
maybe more.

You take some salt, some alum,
and put it into the problem.
Its color goes from yellow to royal blue.

You tie a knot of royal blue into the problem,
as into a Peruvian quipu of colored string.

You enter the problem’s bodegas,
its flea markets, souks.
Amid the alleys of sponges and sweets,
of jewelry, spices, and hair combs,
you ponder which stall, which pumpkin or perfume, is yours.

You go inside the problem’s piano.
You choose three keys.
One surely must open the door of the problem,
if only you knew only this:
is the quandary edible or medical,
a problem of reason or grief?

It is looking back at you now
with the quizzical eyes of a young, bright dog.

Her whole body pitched for the fetch,
the dog wants to please.
If only she could ascertain which direction,
what object, which scent of riddle,
and if the problem is round or elliptical in its orbit,
and if it is measured in foot-pounds, memory, or meat.


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