Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Fall, but the world is green...

My garden is green. My rose bushes are in flower. The jasmin is abundantly in blossom as it grows wildly up my facade. The grass is lush. All around me the world is rich in greens. Is this fall?

Well yes, the olives are nearly ready for picking. My friends at the olive oil mill tell me they're readying the mill -- cleaning all the equipment, re-organizing the tanks, getting everything working perfectly -- to open in ten days. And olives are a fall crop. They will take us into winter. The first will be picked in pleasant, sunny weather, and the last will often be picked during fierce gales of Mistral winds, fingerless gloves and winter coats exigés.

The wine harvest is in, the days are getting shorter. There are pumpkins in the fields, squash on the market stalls. My tomato plants are still producing, but meagerly. For a couple of weeks now I've been tempted by the mushrooms at the market, and seen little old men out scrounging with pocket knives and plastic bags by the cedar tree stumps lining the roads of my island. The signs are there.

And yet, it's so green. Where are all the colors? We're mid-way through October and the trees have barely begun to change. I don't smell fall. The leaves have still to tumble by more than a sprinkling into my courtyard. The rain came pouring down last night, but it encouraged the world to sprout and reach towards the sky. It did not moisten crushed, fallen leaves, nor leave that musty autumnal scent in the air. Crisp is not yet a word I can use for the weather.

I'm not complaining. We're out biking, walking, roller blading, climbing trees and more. Life is good. But strange. I feel like spring has come again. There are my rose bushes, smiling at me as they offer their most beautiful and delicate blossoms. White jasmin petals are strewn before my door as I step out ... not brown leaves.

I may need to program a biking week for this time next year. One including visits to the mills as they get ready, to the wineries where the wine is bubbling away, to the hills where the billy goats are now with their ladies, across the freshly tilled fields, under the sweet-scented pine, up the dirt road to visit our beekeeper and have a rich autumn meal laden in honey harvested over these past six months. With weather like this, what could be more lovely?

I was raised in New York, a land of four seasons. And part of me is still held in sway by the sight of maples and oaks and all those trees that change colors so majestically. I harbor memories of chilly nights under warm blankets, hikes across burgundy/yellow/orange coated hills at a friend's home in Vermont, hot toddies my style -- a grog of home-made cocoa and bourbon.

Soon, I'll have a touch of this. The vineyards will be red. The beech will turn yellow. The chestnut will be a rich brown, drop their fruit upon the ground and offer us both nourishment and handsome wrappings for cheese. Beneath the pine needles up in the hills I may find black trumpets trompettes de la mort, yellow girolles, pale pink pieds de moutons, or soft mossy-brown cèpes. Fall will come.

But for the moment, I'm living a second spring. It is a gift I shan't refuse.

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