far too much writing, far too many photos

I’ve been toiling away in this little life of mine, working on a never-ending stream of projects around the house. And the more that get done, the more that present themselves to get done. Stuff around the yard -– another never-ending stream, given the size of the yard and how much nicer I’d like it to look. Writing -– this journal, the novel I’ve been hacking away at, trying to find time to input older material to post online. And more. Enough to keep me going from morning ’til night most days. How this came happened I’m not exactly sure, though I’m sure home ownership plays a significant role. But it surely is different from earlier years, when I would have been much more inclined to go to a film or sit down with a book or spend time with a good woman or sit in a café or meet friends for a meal or go for a bike ride. Not that each of those things isn’t wonderful, ’cause they are, every blessed one of ‘em . Life just seems to be different right now, for whatever reasons. Not at all bad — on the contrary, which feels a bit strange to me all by itself — just different.

So. Finished and printed out the novel’s penultimate chapter, then immediately loaded my printer in the car to take it in for repair work. It was a truly beautiful late September day, the foliage continues moving slowly away from deep greens to transitional hues. As I drove down the hill to Route 14, I passed a small stand of sumac which had begun to turn red and remembered an autumn drive taken about ten years back, between Albany, N.Y. and the Boston area.

The stretch of land between Albany and the Berkshires is lovely -– rolling, gentle, hilly land that stretches east from the Hudson River toward the more mountainous terrain of western Massachusetts. I drove through on this particular weekend as the colors were hitting their peak, and I passed a long stand of sumac that had turned a vibrant, electric red. One of the most vivid displays of natural color I’ve ever seen — the kind of sight that can stop one’s breath for a moment.

This autumn has been pretty user-friendly, easy on the eyes and on the constitution, but the colors haven’t yet shown what they can do. There are small splashes of red or orange here and there, but to this point it’s been slow, relaxed, understated.

So I’m tooling along Route 14 into Barre, Montpelier’s evil twin city. The sun’s drifting lower in the sky, casting long nearly-October shadows. (As soon as the afternoon approaches 4 o’clock or so, those shadows start stretching themselves out and the warmth of the day begins to ebb, the air takes on a chill. This is that season that walks the fine, wavering line between summer and deep, true autumn.) As my car rides the two-lane down into the bowl in which Barre sprawls, Halloween decorations begin appearing in house windows, which seemed to disquiet a part of me, as if that part considers the early decorations to be a way the world around me has of accelerating the seasons. Oh please, it whimpers, Halloween will arrive soon enough. Let September be September; hold off on the cardboard witches ‘n’ black cats ‘n’ pumpkins ‘n’ ghosts ‘n’ bats. At least until October, at least for another few days. On the other hand, who cares? If it gets people smiling, produces some autumn atmosphere, gets kids excited about what’s coming, what difference does it make if front windows and front lawns get festooned with fanciful stuff?

No difference at all. It’ll be gone soon enough, replaced by Indian corn, then Christmas lights, Santa Clauses, all that.

I arrive in Barre, I find the computer store, bring my printer in, they take my info, give me a receipt, tell me they’ll call. Everything’s happening easily, smoothly. People are smiling, it’s a picture-perfect September afternoon.

Along with the printer, I had thrown a torchiere lamp into the car, because there is currently some major discounting happening throughout the state for high-efficiency, low-wattage lighting. Last week I picked up around 20 light bulbs for a paltry 20 cents each, plugging them in all over the house. That right there made me ridiculously, even absurdly happy. Then I found out there’s an exchange program going on where you can trade in your current halogen-bulb torchiere lamps for the new high-efficiency/low-wattage models, the new lamp costing a big $5.00. I’ve got four torchiere lamps here in the house, I figured I’d give this a try. This last Saturday I brought one of them in to a hardware store -– they took it away, presented me with a brand new in-box lamp, I handed them $5.00 and skipped out of there as happy as if they’d handed me a $100 bill. (I’m not defending my pathetic self here. I simply describe the situation.) I get home, pull the bugger of its box, throw it together, install it in the living room. The verdict: it looks great! The light looks great! And it cost me five bucks! I exchanged another one today, bringing home a brand new five dollar lamp that waits to be set up in one of the bedrooms.

Honest to God — the simple pleasures.

I get back home here an hour after I drove off, the sun had just dipped down behind the treetops to the west. And with that sinking, the temperature slips from chilly levels to cold ones. Like being in the desert, with that kind of sharp, fast contrast — at 3:30 it’s beautiful, temperature in the low 70s. By 5, it’s nearly 20 degrees colder. Feels like it may get genuinely brisk tonight, possibly down near freezing. I’ll probably bring in a bunch of potted plants to keep them happy and alive for one more day.

Tomorrow will bring more work, more entertainment. And the days will roll along.

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