Fifty shades of sepia

My apologies for taking a powder the last several months. Maybe you have all abandoned ship. I hope not. It’s not like I didn’t want to write, and I even made a few lame attempts, but couldn’t seem to get any traction going. Of course, I have several great excuses, among them, our warp-speed class schedule, exhaustion, my dog ate my homework. But in the end, I blame it mostly on global warming. Yup. All doubt that such a thing exists has now been eradicated by the intrusively, relentlessly, harassingly, HOT state of California – a condition we were forced to endure pretty much the entire two months we were there. Inspiration simply refused to show her lovely face. Can you blame her? She was either afraid she would melt, or I would drown her in a pool of sweat. I am one of those people who would rather put on ten layers of fleecy sweats to stay warm, than keep stripping off clothing until I am stark naked, still finding no relief. And, yes, we have air conditioning in California, but please remember, I am married to the most environmentally responsible man in the universe. And I love that about him! I do! Like a green superhero, he transforms wastewater to sparkling clean, composts all our table scraps, grows fruits and vegetables, recycles, collects rinse water from our sink and pours it into the garden. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down,” is our bathroom motto. (Although, most of the time he applies his nitrogen to the garden and flora around the property, alongside the leg-lifting poodles. I stick with the bathroom. Squatting ain’t as easy as it used to be.) So, obviously, he also believes releasing carbon into the atmosphere by running the air conditioning is a grave, grave sin. I agree that when it comes to the environment, we need to pay it forward, but I had to overrule him once or twice during this California summer’s attempt to boil us all in oil. Too many 100-degree days in a row make me feel a slight bit homicidal. And homicide’s a much graver sin than running the air conditioning, isn’t it?

Not only was the weather very one-note (did I mention hot?), but the landscape in Sunny California was a myriad of rather uninspiring browns. This past summer, while the Cabot woods offered a never-ending palette of greens, and the Clearing’s flowers bloomed every color you can imagine, California seemed only capable of brown. Okay, to be fair, there are many shades of brown (although, perhaps not fifty): tan, umber, sepia, straw, beige, khaki, puce, sienna and sand, to name a few. Dry colors. Burnt colors. Thirsty colors. California’s lakes and aquifers are mere puddles of their former selves.  Leaves on the trees hang like brittle, empty husks of insects in the blistering heat. Everything seems to be going to ashes, turning to dust. The people cry, “El Niño, why have you forsaken us??” Maybe I sound overly dramatic, but the thing is, it promises to be catastrophic if California does not get a decent amount of precipitation over the next several winters.

It is good to be back in Vermont. So far, we have enjoyed a spectacular “leaf peeping” season, a couple of brief dustings of snow, temps as high as 70, and as low as 18. Right this moment, the sun is out and it’s gently raining. Weather may not be an obstacle in California (well, sometimes it is – see above), but we absolutely love the unpredictability of the Vermont climate, not just season-to-season or day-to-day, but minute-by-minute. The sky just clouded over again, and the wind kicked up.  It’s raining harder. My poodles are in front of the propane stove.

We’ve been back for three weeks now, and I am alone at the Clearing this weekend for the first time since we have lived here, so decided I’d better take this opportunity to dive back into my blog, which I have continued procrastinating since we got back. Of course, like all professional procrastinators (I may be about to earn an honorary Ph.D.), I continue to have good excuses: school work, work-work, house guests, standing around in awe of where I live – stuff like that. I was supposed to fly to Boise with Eric Saturday for a workshop he gave yesterday, but at the very last-minute, I decided I needed to stay home and contemplate my navel. This trip was a really quick turnaround – up at 3:30 a.m. for a three-hour drive to Boston Saturday morning to catch a 9 a.m. flight to Boise, do the class on Sunday, attend a formal dinner last night, catch a 7:15 flight this morning, arrive in Boston around 4 p.m., and drive three hours home, probably getting in around 8 p.m. or later, depending on Boston rush hour traffic. Ugh. It just got to sounding too frantic after our crazy summer schedule. I felt a little guilty, though, like I ducked out on Eric and left him to endure the ordeal alone, but he understood and was wonderful about it. As soon as he left, though, I kind of got the heebie-jeebies. I am alone in the woods with no car. And I was a little spooked last week by an off-hand remark our pet sitter made when we got home from doing our class in New Hampshire. Something about being at the dead-end of a mile-long dirt driveway, and lots of places in the woods to hide bodies…yikes! Thank goodness I have two vicious toy poodles to protect me. (There is an oxymoron in there somewhere.) Actually, they have been barking every time the wind changes direction, which is a bit unnerving. They don’t usually do that. Maybe they feel a little vulnerable, too – maybe they are missing our alpha man as much as I am. So glad he is on his way home.

Oh, by the way, it stopped raining and the sun just came out.

Here are a few photos depicting the weather changes and stunning beauty around these parts in October:


Trees on fire in the back yard.


Come on in…


Our pretty State Capitol


Previews of coming attractions:





Welcome back, Autumn!


I can’t remember the last time I saw a woolly bear caterpillar. So cute.


All suited up for our walk. (Eric and I are trying to dodge hunters’ bullets by dressing up like traffic cones.)


The leaves compliment his vest…



The Vermont mountains in fall remind me a little bit of a bowl of Trix Cereal.


View of the house from my writer’s cabin.


The Clearing, in full fall regalia.



4 thoughts on “Fifty shades of sepia

  1. Good read! :-)
    I am proud of you for sticking it out alone, in the woods. Not an easy thing to do. Hopefully it becomes less difficult with time. And, you have the Beastie-boys for company.
    Did you mean “navel” or, was that supposed to be “novel”? :)

  2. You look more like a candy corn than a traffic cone in your autumn regalia, Patti! The prose and photos are fantastic, and as always, very entertaining….kind of makes me want to start writing again – maybe start my own blog (only not quite sure how to go about it). Glad to have you back!

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