And just like that, it feels like fall. Leaves are giving way in strong winds, the mornings have been noticeably darker, and that telltale chill is flirting with the breeze. I'm ready. We spent another weekend doing food things - the last huge batch of pesto, wild blueberry picking, another huge pot of tomato-eggplant-leek-pepper-garlic sauce, a bunch of work in the garden. I am grateful for the bounty, but never have I been more ready for winter than I am right now. I am peering into the calendar and equating these coming winter months with some serious relaxation. We took everything out of our chest freezer this weekend and organized and counted and tallied and recorded. Inquiring minds want to know: are 25 cups of pesto really enough?? Will 15 gallons of blueberries get us by? Etc. We intend to find out.
The wild blueberry picking was breathtaking. I moved here in the middle of a drought that only let up this summer, so every time I've been up to this spot it has been parched, if a green sort of parched. This year the trees and rhododendrons and blueberries and blackberries and asters and yarrow and joe pye and everything else - shockingly verdant and green and growing. The berries were beautiful, if just a hair on the early side, and B and I picnicked near a stream and picked for what turned out to be hours and hours. It was actually the most relaxing thing we've done in weeks. Having already picked a gazillion gallons of berries took the pressure off and we moved slowly, took in the view, and listened to the ambient buzz of all kinds of bees and other pollinators. (What? You don't stress about how many blueberries you put up? I'm sorry, we can't be friends.) As we hiked out, I turned to B and said something dorky like "I married you!" and he threw back his head and laughed and said "Right at that very moment I was thinking that if I wasn't already married to you I would be proposing to you right now." How appallingly sweet, I know.
I think something happened this summer between me and this place. I moved here, if a bit indirectly, from San Francisco. The transition was really, really hard. I missed good restaurants, a thriving local political scene, riding my bike, and my friends. This place had fiddle tunes and a geography that was lodged in nostalgia for me; it is beautiful to me but it is also my geography of teenage angst and uncertainty. It has been over three years now, and the rolling mountains and the katydids at night and the colors in the fall and the crocuses in spring have grown out of being something from my past; they are me, now - gardener, musician, wife, librarian, chicken keeper, berry picker, fruit scavenger, daughter who actually drives home for family reunions and holiday gatherings. I have felt of this place this summer, collecting events that mark the passing of the seasons - now we plant the summer garden, now we pick cherries, now we drive on two lane roads out to our favorite swimming hole, now for corn, now for peaches, now for blueberries, now for the fall garden, soon for apples. I know where I am, for the first time in many years. It's good.