Shifting season

Racecar has made a priority of finding more warm places to nap, such as on this folded quilt. You can tell this is in early October, because the philodendron is on the deck. I was afraid it would freeze to death, and pulled it inside by the middle of October.

It’s time for a few updates as I make my mental shift from Summer to Autumn. My internal shifts don’t necessarily follow the calendar, and I have to wear a season for a little while, till it settles upon me. For fun one morning a month ago, I started a fire in the woodstove because I missed fire and it was almost chilly enough to warrant a fire. The temperature kept dropping and I’ve had a fire almost every day since then. The rains began early this year. Since then we’ve had some clear days, in which I woke up to frost on the deck for a few days in a row, and morning temperatures around 26 degrees (-3 C). So… ok, fine. I accept that it is no longer summer.

Here, Racecar sprawls across the Turkish carpet, absorbing heat in front of the wood stove.

This year the oranges and reds of the trees are more spectacular than usual. I don’t have any photos of the brilliant hillsides that are actually making me think of when I lived in Vermont. Trust me, the light show has been dazzling.

Walking along Lake Sacagawea in Longview, WA
That, up in the air, believe it or not, is a squirrel bridge. It was built specifically for squirrels, to keep them off the road. Squirrels use this bridge, on Kessler ST in Longview, Washington, as well as two other squirrel bridges in Longview. The first, and most famous of them is the Nutty Narrows Bridge.

The first week of October, Tara messaged me that they were taking their car to the shop. Tara’s dad, who lives closer than I do, met Tara at the shop to make sure no one was going to take advantage of the 23-year-old. While replacing the serpentine belt, and doing some regular maintenance checks, it was determined that the car needed thousands of dollars worth of repairs. I had only paid $1200 for the car originally. The mechanic recommended that money would be better spent on a new car and not wasted on the old one. One problem: the severity of repairs needed was time sensitive. So much so, that Tara said they were scared to drive the car at all. Discussion ensued between Tara, their dad, the mechanic, and myself. My conclusion: Tara needs a new car right away.

I told Tara to begin searching online, and I gave them a price limit, and recommended beginning the search by first determining what KIND of car appealed to them. Their dad gave them some tips about checking the total miles and CarFax, which gives a history of wrecks and owners. Lightning fast, Tara educated themselves on cars and decided the Hybrid gas/electric Toyota Prius was the car they loved best. By the next morning, they had chosen their specific car. Ha ha. This was a new idea for me, since I’ve never shopped for a car online, but why not? My brother is a Toyota guy, so I sent him the link, and he approved. The car Tara wanted was at a dealership in Tacoma, Washington. I had to get creative.

I took the train!!!
It was a pretty ordinary train.
We passed some pretty ordinary sights, like this foggy, rainy view up Nisqually Reach, at the south end of Puget Sound.

I gambled. The next day was Wednesday between Tues/Thurs Zoom classes, so I bought a train ticket from nearby Kelso, WA to Tacoma, WA. I called up the dealership to put a deposit down so they’d hold the car for me, and discovered that someone else was already in negotiations over the car. I had Tara search again, and we spent all day discussing the virtues of less agreeable cars. In the evening I got a call back from the dealership. Negotiations fell through, did I still want the car? Tara was thrilled.

The next morning I had my neighbor drop me off at the train station, which was closed due to COVID-19. I waited outside on the platform, grateful that I had decided to bring a jacket. This would be my first trip on this particular train, so I was interested. This would also be my first trip on public transportation in 2020, so I was nervous. I flashed my Amtrak QR code from my phone and the attendant informed us that we had to keep our masks on the whole trip. I didn’t have to sit next to anyone, and felt moderately safe while I read my class-assigned journal article during the two-hour trip. The salesman from the dealership arrived at the train station in the Prius and I did my test-drive from the train station back to the dealership! In a couple hours I was driving home to Rainier. The gamble had paid off.

In the meantime, Tara’s dad had picked them up and was driving north. They arrived at my house about 30 minutes after I did. We said our hellos, exchanged info about the new car, and Tara, gleeful, drove home. Their dad followed them all the way, just in case.

Tara is the excited new owner of a 2011 Prius. Yes, that is a jellyfish tattoo.
Too quickly, they got in the car to drive it home. Dad’s white car there behind, waiting to follow the kid home.
After the super quick visit, I turned my attention back to my usual guests. These ladies (and two young bucks) have been frequently hanging out beneath the apple tree here. Waiting for food to drop from the sky, which it eventually does. You can see my horseshoe pit, not getting used while it rains.

I’m still walking my loop from the house. Remember my walking team, the Belle Brigade? When the 2020 relay race was canceled, we were notified by organizers that we were automatically registered for the 2021 race. Our team no longer has monthly meetings, which is sad, but we do stay in touch and many of us are still training in our speed walking. When I do this, my spirits are lifted not only because of the exercise, but also because it’s just so darn pretty where I live.

The wild holly trees are bedecked in jewelry for the season.
This view reminded me of that old Windows screen saver wallpaper.
One stretch of my route is along a ridgeline, where I can look down onto the Columbia River. Here Mount St. Helens shows off her new white scarf. (See how close she is? That’s why I go there so often.)

Other than Racecar, my other girls are obviously the feathered ladies. This is molting season, and most of them look like hell. I am a mean mom to my chickens, and rather than empathize with their humility, I crack jokes right in their faces about how ridiculous they look. The whole floor of their pen is littered in fallen leaves and wet feathers and it’s so pathetic. OK, one thing I did do is bulk up their beds with fresh straw and some new hemp bedding because they must be chilly with half their feathers gone. I’m not THAT heartless.

This is my hen named Two, who is sort of like two now, because half of her is walking around and half of her is scattered on the ground.
Poor Maya has only two sad tailfeathers left.
One of the twins looks like she’s the leftovers of a down pillow explosion, and if she runs too fast, the rest of the feathers will fall out. See the feathers growing from her feet? I think it’s adorable.
A panorama of my wood shed, deliciously full of wood, my house on the right, and the back yard with apple trees in the middle.

The thing about new seasons here on my property is that each new season brings new chores. Fall means getting wood put up for the winter. It means cleaning all the gutters (For the first time. I’ll have to clean them again later.). My new brother Tanner gave me a bunch of extra tools he had when I visited, so now I have a leaf blower for the first time and thus I have been using it. Man, it is a million times more effective and faster and easier on my back than raking the ceaseless maples leaves that fall onto the driveway. Oh, and this year, since I’ve completely ignored it the entire time I’ve lived here: this year I had to begin clearing the moss off my roof.

This is what it looked like before I started.
I used the push broom to sweep of the debris. Then I used my garden hoe to scrape up the moss, which looks like fluffy green caterpillars.
After doing one section, I moved to the next section. I only got one side of the house done before the rains began again. But you can see it’s an improvement.

Working hard outside is a good way to not think about politics, and to keep myself from scrolling the latest news, since I don’t have consistent cell service on my property. Writing an Autumn blog post is another way to avoid the news. But now I’m done writing. So I am going to go check and see if we’re any closer to 270. *sigh*

Morning sunshine blasts crepuscular rays through fog, making my garden look magical. This was the view out my office window a few days ago.

15 thoughts on “Shifting season

  1. Ohh, what a brilliant post! Lovely images, squirrel bridge, the important chore (half) done, and a new car! And the berries, the hens, the deer, and cat, all the way till the magical last photo. You live in beauty. The news can wait.

  2. I love how you say you have to wear a season first, Crystal. What a lovely image. Your property is gorgeous and I’m sure all the seasonal work keeps you fit. Apart from your regular walking.

    1. Yes! The work does help keep me fit. I am a cranky exerciser, because I just don’t want to do it. But I do enjoy the hard work at home, raking, chopping wood, etc. There are projects at your place that are hard work too so I know you can relate. I tell myself that I’m not a total lazy bum because I get to my chores pretty often. Glad you liked my little play on words. 🙂

      1. Yip, there are many chores requiring quite a bit of physical labour, but I’ve been looking forward to them, so at this point, it is all still a whole lot of fun and a great way to get into better shape. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your compliment on the photo! I like it too. The hens will be so much prettier when all their feathers grow back in. And yes, that Tara is a lucky person. I am comforted in the fact that Tara is very humble and grateful for all that I am able to provide, so that makes it easier.

  3. We are at and have surpassed 270, Crystal, so Peggy has been dancing around all m morning! I am just relieved!
    Wow, that was a lot of catching up. Tara has a good mom. My leaf blower is one of my prized tools. Once I used to swear at them on early Saturday mornings. Tons of leaves changed all of that. And the poor chickens. 🙂
    Thanks for the update. –Curt

    1. I’m not to the dancing stage yet, but a lot of the pressure came off. I’ve been in this permanent state of agitation for four years, that just keeps dropping new shocking news onto my head every couple weeks (sometimes every couple days) regarding #45s behavior. Clenching my teeth all this time, I’ve numbed myself to hope and peace. It’s going to take some time before I trust that this is real. I’m still waiting for the next catastrophe that makes the transition painful, or violent, or something… you know if anyone is capable of spoiling the future of the US, right now it is that man.

      Just like you, I used to despise leaf blowers!! But now I have multiple maple trees that hang over my long driveway. The leaves are a constant menace! And one can’t just wait till all the leaves fall, because that takes a month, and in the meantime the leaves rot and leave a sludge, so up till now I’ve gone out there and raked it all up, over and over, but that is so much work. I now accept the leaf blower! ha ha!

      1. I must say that listening to Joe and Kamala’s victory speeches last night went a long way toward relieving me.They were so good, so positive, so different!
        I think that Biden has the presidency firmly in his grip, but that doesn’t mean Trump won’t do as much harm as he possibly can.
        What I find so disturbing is the the majority of white people voted for him.
        Meanwhile, go blow some more leaves. 🙂 –Curt

      2. It’s hard not to be nervous about a loose canon that has been off its trolley forever, Crystal. It certainly sounds like most, if not all of his legal challenges are blanks. One way of thinking about it is that the more time he broods over his defeat, the less time he will have to do even more damage. –Curt

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