"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Seasons In California

End of the plane ride....Mama losing it a little.
We had a wonderful visit back to Michigan with our two families, and were part of my youngest sister Song's wedding to Jack, the newest uncle in the tribe. Its a hard gig, suddenly finding yourself in ownership of "uncle-ing" my four wild boys and I have to say, Jack rises to the challenge. We have been quite lucky in both of the last two uncle acquisitions. My sisters know how to pick playful dudes with love of action figures, roughhousing and silly jokes...all the important things. Its an unspoken thing,  evaluating potential spouses of your siblings for the kind of uncles or aunts they will be to your kids. Never heard anybody talk about that before but it sure is important to me. You don't get to pick your own kids aunts and uncles and you sure don't get to select them when you are the kid but its  a pretty important role. I have looked up to my aunts and uncles a lot as I grew up and sometimes they have been sources of advice or assistance and more and more as I get older, they are part of my network of emotional warmth and love. There's no underrating the role that you can have in a child's life as a peripheral adult in their family who cares and is around and willing to "get" them. Determined to "aunt" more actively this year and make sure my nieces and nephews know that I care. 

The leaves on my crown here are from Michigan when we were there last week, the maples were just before peak, turning red and orange everywhere on the edges of the woods. We have many fewer maples by variety and by volume here in Northern California. I miss the trees I know well, mostly in the way one misses old friends, not because they are the only lovely trees on the planet but just because they are my "known" faces. I miss my childhood trees for familiarity and comfort, but I love all the trees I am getting to know out here. A eucalyptus or pepper tree are graceful beauties that I never knew before. I do have to share that for the amount of griping and disparaging I hear from locals about the "lack of seasons" in California (No autumn at all, so goes the rumor.) I thought the fall color was beautiful! We don't have the same ecosystem so there aren't big sweeps of maple forests which give the "hills are alive" kind of color that Michigan and Connecticut have in the fall. Most of our autumn color is out in the vineyards which all turn gold in the fall, or in the cities. There are beautiful street trees that are all turning color here, apparently unseen, because nobody points them out or talks about them much. I'm puzzled about why! The leaves on the sweet gum trees are just beginning to blush red around town now. They turn the most spectacular scarlet and so do the Japanese maples, the red maples, and the crepe myrtles. One of my favorites in fall is the ginkgo which will puts on one of the most uniform and brightly gold glow, pretty much every single leaf on the tree will turn a glowing yellow.    Here there are lots of new friends however, I love the sweet gum trees, the pepper trees, the crepe myrtles and so many more. The persimmons in our backyard will turn a dark lipsticky red too around Thanksgiving. Fall foliage is later here....coming more in November and even December than September and October and much slower and gradually. We get chilly mornings and evenings, albeit without frost and eventually after color is over the leaves will fall all over town too. We have a lot of persistant foliage too so its doesn't look as bare, but if you which streets to go down, the big leaf maple, sweet gum and sycamores leave big, unseen swathes of leaves for kicking through. Secret Autumn in Norcal.

 I harvested the first hydrangea heads to put up on the mantle today, a few of them had blown down in the first rains (the rainy season is here and starting to turn sunny days into a rarer sighting). I put a few on the front porch with our pumpkins and squashes too. Lovely to have my own decorations growing in the backyard. I have considered spray painting some gold just for subtle shimmer. Might be beautiful or might be tacky, hard to say.

The kale is still appreciating the recent trimming that I gave it and is putting out a new flush of delicious leaves. Strange to realize that there is no real point in putting it away in the freezer for winter as winter here means kale in the garden, fresh at hand. Still wrapping my mind around all that each season means. 

One of my next big projects will be making a NorCal Wheel of Seasons....with painted reminders of what things signify the changing seasons here, I'm so annoyed with everyone saying that there are none. All the world has seasons and change, we just don't all live in a Tasha Tudor book.....the world is more diverse and interesting than that. Who made New England seasons the heartbeat of what change in the natural world world means? It reminds me of the ridiculous obsession homeowners have with keeping up an green English lawn, even when it doesn't make any sense in their ecosystem. There is more than one way to enjoy a front yard or to mark the changing of the year. 

That's our cute little Orange Blossom Cottage, with the kitchen light glowing as the sun goes down. Hello to all of you, from Cali!


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