First the bad news: the fall crocuses are blooming. I say “bad news” because they are a couple of weeks ahead of time. I have seen those little lavender flowers still in bloom well into December, but that is when they bloomed later in October than this. Not sure what that means, but it can’t be good.
Of all the seasons, to me, fall is the one that proceeds in episodes. Spring, summer and winter arrive in a big bang and then linger in varying stages of seasonal glory, all the time, proclaiming with a loud “look at me! It’s summer (or spring or winter),” but fall just sorta puts its toe in for a minute, then draws back until another day, teasing us that maybe it’s not really here.
We drove to Anchorage a couple of weeks ago, and all along I looked for swans with no luck until we arrived at Potter’s Marsh. The swans were gathered there, at least a dozen pair, waiting for whatever signal they need to take off south. A sure sign of impending seasonal change. And when we got home, the Sunday Clarion had Nick Varney’s column about the cranes taking off over Homer, heading south, another sure sign of fall. But … then we were rewarded with a few beautiful sunny days, and the thought creeps in that just maybe the signals have gotten crossed and fall is really at least a month away, no matter what the calendar and the falling leaves say.
It will continue like this until snow flies. Hallowe’en will slip in, and Thanksgiving, and then the Bohemian Waxwings will swoop through and clear all the berry bushes and Mountain Ash trees. That is when I usually give it up and bow to the inevitable, because if we don’t have snow by then, it will be here soon and we finally have to concede fall slipped in and out and we didn’t notice (or tried to ignore it).
And the good news is I didn’t write the column I started three or four weeks ago. I started a tirade about the misguided souls who thought they could change history (I may have called them Blooming Idiots), or rewrite it, by tearing down a statue or two. I was only a couple of paragraphs in when the hurricanes happened, and we all got a glimpse of how it used to be. Everyone helping where they could; neighbors assisting neighbors, jumping in as soon as possible to get their lives back to whatever is going to be normal for now.
Granddaughter No. 1 lives in Dickinson, Texas, as do her other grandparents and her mother, so we had personal reason to be concerned and glued to the news for a couple of days. After the initial worry, she was able to offer a little levity saying the hardest part was being stuck in the house for several days with two pre-teen boys and her husband. Pictures she sent showed her street like a river and water to the door, but Texans know what‘s important, and life goes on. Grab a shovel or a boat and do what needs to be done. Tomorrow will arrive, come hell or high water (apropos to the situation, I’d say).
North America was bombarded with disaster after disaster for a few days: forest fires in the entire western half of the United states and in Canada, hurricanes across the southern United States, then devastation in a Mexican earthquake and more hurricanes in the Carribean. It looked like it would never end for awhile. But people reacted like they really cared for each other again. Everyone jumped in to help in any way they could. No one asked who you’d voted for, or if you liked Trump, or if you were with Hillary. Seemed like old times for awhile.
But pretty soon politics floated to the top. Everywhere you turned someone was denigrating “the other side.” You couldn’t even watch entertainment TV or a sports event without sniping of some kind going on. When I heard that Dr. Suess’ “The Cat in the Hat” was racist because he wore a bow tie, I turned off theTV and left the house. That’s when I saw those little purple buds peeking through the ground, and it occurred to me that fall is here. No amount of politics, no calling names is going to change that. The leaves are falling; it’s getting darker and colder and the Stellar’s Jays are clamoring for peanuts.
And guess what! The government didn’t cause it; no one is a bigot for acknowledging it; and there is nothing that could have been done by anyone, past or present that would have changed it .
I don’t have to write about Blooming Idiots; I can write about blooming crocuses.
Virginia Walters lives in Kenai. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.