Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cold air and snow brace us

Photo of lobster mushroom, by gabriel amadeus on Flickr Creative Commons license

Lately my mind has been consumed with foraging. I think of mushrooms and their fluted caps, rose hips swaggering on branches, bull-whip kelp in brash sections on the beach.
I know little about my topic, though. I look at many blogs, and I went chanterelle-hunting for the first time a few weeks ago. My knowledge is nascent, but I'm building on it.

The weather here in the lowlands of the Pacific Northwest is turning unpleasant for me, wet and full of leaf rot. The past few days have been dusk-dark at mid-day. They aren't just shorter since last week’s time change, but full of looming catastrophe in the hanging darkness and just-deferred downpour.

Walking in Seattle in the dim noonday, taking care not to slip on damp leaves piled along the sloping sidewalks, I think of Snoqualmie Pass and the Cascades. As of this morning, they have received fresh snow and an order to don tire chains.

The air at the Pass, I know, is brisk and cleansing to the lungs. Looming mountains lift the eyes into clear air or air hazed by snowfall. One feels the elevation of the barometric pressure, and steps with energy on snowshoes.

Sometimes the air and the snow are the cold water in which we can swim.

I look forward to diving into this land, to finding the rose hips and making a syrup to pour over cake -– to eating that cake and making other starches from chestnuts. 

To gathering. It is endless, the possibilities.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Apple-picking days alternating with dark

Photo by VIUDeepBay on Flickr Creative Commons license.

Days in fall in Seattle are like an Appaloosa horse’s hide: They can be light -- but often they occur in great muddy dapples that obscure the bright, making their own pattern.
That's putting a pretty reading on it, though. What often happens is that I wake either thrilled by sunlight or lulled by gray. And sometimes the gray just makes a day in which it’s hard to be alert or even to have bright and clear eyes.
Probably that’s why I like cold water: It jolts me. I rise from the waters bright-featured, clear-headed. Sunlight in a gray place does that, too.
When in southern California, I’ve often thought that sunlight was excessive. All Pacific Coast weather is moody in its way, utterly different from the East Coast weather -- which follows its course through various seasons. Colors in the East are often vivid and primary.
That said, winter in the Northeast isn’t really a primary color -– it can be midnight dark, or display the furrowed clouds of expected snow. But it’s very often sunny, bright days.
I think that’s it: I like the bright, earned days of apple-picking time. I like them sharp as a Honey Crisp apple, with the same tang.
We have had some of those days in Seattle lately. Like the Appaloosa’s hide, they are variegated. Several dark, slogging days in a row precede the bright jewels that seem to last long.
I am glad for the variety, so far.
It may be time to swim again. If last year I swam on January 1 – which I did -– it can be done again. We will see. It’s always time to push off into the challenge.