Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Clock Says November

There's a pattering on the roof that is not rain.

The garden is several inches deep in leaves of various shades of orange, gold and brown. The flowers are buried in an avalanche of the same leaves that shaded them all summer, and still the leaves come down. We are having a blizzard of leaves.

While the red and yellow mums will thrive and return next spring, I am thinking of my rosemary plant, which is a tender perennial.

How do I save it from the coming cold? Is it possible to keep it alive for next year? I can't dig it up, pot it and put it in a sheltered room or greenhouse. The best I can do is surround it with a wire tomato cage, pull the branches inside, fill the cage with leaves and wrap it well against the wind. There is no shortage of leaves. We are rich with the gold of leaves. The air smells of willow leaves, but my hands smell of rosemary.

The hands of this particular "sundial" appear to still be pointing to August, but the leaves tell time differently. Maybe it's because the dark months of winter seem so much longer than summer. But here, in the Okanagan, "winter" is only a fleeting shadow of what it is in other parts of Canada. I've seen hard frosts in July and August in Calgary. Here we haven't yet had a frost.

I took the Red Chief for a long walk at midnight last night. The air was misty and cool and the street lamps had halos of soft orange light. We walked and walked until I heard the distant yipping of coyotes, then we hurried home to that rush of delicious warmth which surrounds you as you come in on a chilly night.

This morning I couldn't stay inside when it was so warm and fragrant outside. Sal and I had a long walk, and once he was ready to come inside I grabbed my camera and went out again. I spent an hour walking around the park and capturing the day with my camera.

The morning was overcast, yet the sun broke through to illuminate the falling leaves, the cliffs and trees, the green heads of the mallards swimming at the beach. The orange snow fence will keep winter-blown debris off the beach and hopefully discourage the beavers from chewing down any more of the beach's poplar trees.

It's the second of November and the park is more full of flowers than people. Roses, pansies, petunias, geraniums, begonias, mums, lilies, mints and camomile. The dead nettles are poking their noses through the drifts of leaves to bloom as vigorously as they did at any point in the summer.

As usual Robert Frost comes to mind as the leaves spin and flutter past me. Right now it's the willow leaves which are falling. As Maddie, our neighbour down the way, said as I paused to chat, "Golden snow."

In Hardwood Groves

The same leaves over and over again!
They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove

Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up,
They must go down into the dark decayed.

They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is the way in ours.
~ Robert Frost

The scents of rosemary, thyme, mint and sage mingle as I run my hands over my still vibrant friends. They seem to like their leaf blanket, the growth beneath the leaves is deeper in colour and happier looking.

Tucked in among the mint a cluster of mushrooms shoulders aside the blanket of leaves and spreads out in the sun. They are ephemeral, tomorrow they will be black and shriveled, but today they stand for their share of air and light, their moment of life.

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