While I type these words, it is Sunday morning after the time change. The day seems to be ridiculously early - what do you mean, it is not yet 11 o'clock?
Warren is packing up retuned and refinished xylophone bars for a customer. He is taking a few minutes to play scales and patterns on the Deagan Imperial he just restored and the rich tones roll through the house.
We are spending the weekend tending to the homefront: mowing the lawn one last time, winding up the hoses and toting them to the shed until spring. I volunteered to put down the kitchen garden for the winter and spent an hour or so yesterday pulling up the frost-dead peppers and tomato vines. The brown basil stalks gave off their last pungent whiffs as I yanked them up and threw them onto the growing pile.
Bunches of sage and rosemary hang drying in the basement. I pulled the onions - stunted from the tomatoes and peppers shading them all summer - and they are heaped to dry on top of the freezer. When we walk down the basement stairs, rich earthy smells rise up to greet us.
The day ahead holds the promise of more outdoor work. In the evening, all the earlier now because of the time change, we will join Margo and Gerald at their place for supper and what promises to be the last outdoor fire of the year.
Outside fires are particularly compelling this time of year, with the chill air and the early dark. There is something primal about gathering around a fire with friends, about keeping the inky, chill night at bay with the crackling light and heat.
My friend Linda recently sent me an e-card celebrating Samhain, the Gaelic New Year that falls at the end of October. The card's lines evoked images of bonfires and dancing around the fire until the new year broke, of friends coming to the gathering with their candles and lanterns bobbing in the darkness. I wrote her back: "where along the way did we lose our connection to nature and our reverence for the earth's life cycle?"
I live in the modern world and I neither regret nor apologize for it. But I do regret my disconnect from the ancient rhythms and patterns of the earth. During our trip home from Montana this August, Warren and I pulled over on an empty Iowa road and stepped outside the car to stare upwards at the Milky Way. It was sprawled across the sky in all its brilliance - brilliance that we who live in urbanized areas cannot see because of light pollution. We aped Walt Whitman for several long moments, standing in the mystical moist night-air, looking up in silence at the stars.
It had been so long since I had seen the Milky Way.
When I look at my own life and ponder the need to reset my priorities and schedule, it occurs to me a little more awareness of the earth's ancient tunes and a little less static from modern America would serve me well.
Tonight Margo, Gerald, Warren, and I will sit around the fire, talking as it crackles and pops. There should be a clear sky, so from time to time, one of us will comment on the stars. We will gather around the fire like humans have done for thousands of years, sharing the night, sharing ourselves, warming our bodies, warming our souls.