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BY suzy

10/01 Direct Link

When youíre going through something, you canít believe it will ever be different. If itís winter, it will never be warm and sunny again. If itís summer, it will never be cold and rainy again. If youíre a child, youíll never be a grown-up Ė or at least, it will take forever). If youíre single, youíll never find love. If youíre partnered, youíll always be together. Yet any and all of these conditions can change at any time, and when they do - and they do - they will surprise us.†

10/02 Direct Link

September and October in our little corner of the world tend to have the best weather of the year: less fog, more sun, warmer temperatures. We rarely get rain before November, so these fall months, when most of the tourists have left, is our summer.

On these golden, late season days, when I hang out my laundry to dry in the sun, and water my garden every other day, itís hard to believe that it will ever be cold and rainy enough to hang the clothes inside and wear a sweater to bed. Even though it happens every year.†

10/03 Direct Link

The unexpected cold and heavy rains immediately cancelled out the sunny days that came before them. It was as if those halcyon days never happened, or happened long ago. But it was yesterday. My mindset immediately changed to sweaters and making carrot soup. I looked at my flowered rain boots and thought, "not yet."

As the day dawned grey and rainy, I felt my mood darken and begin to prepare for the long, dark winter ahead. The rain had come early this year, and now it seemed that there was an endless vista of winter darkness stretching ahead of me.†

10/04 Direct Link

My house has curved walls, and this makes the rain sound much louder.†Last night, it sounded like someone was throwing pebbles at the house, and the wind was howling. I pulled the feather pillow over my head to try and drown out some of the noise. Here in the depths of the country, this is about as loud as it gets.

As I lay there trying to sleep, I was glad that I had filled the buckets for emergency water and had a couple of gallons of drinking water on hand. Living in the country needs planning.†

10/05 Direct Link

The morning has dawned clear and cold, the garden freshly washed. The cats are cautiously exploring the rain-soaked world. It's as if the storm never happened. A glance at the unreliable weather forecast reveals that the seasonable sun is supposed to make a return appearance for the next few days, but you canít believe everything you hear, especially when it comes to weather. Iím already looking forward to seeing the ocean on my way to work this morning. The waves are always higher and stronger after a storm, and a pissed-off ocean is a beautiful thing.†

10/06 Direct Link

The cats seem surprised by the rain after a summer of sunshine. Here in California, we only get rain in the winter. The boys were a few months old when winter set in last year, so they have probably forgotten about the cold, dark, and wet months. Although cats are supposed to hate water, mine come in from the woods with their fur wet and spiky. After they dry off, they head back outside, undeterred. My older cat, Audrey, comes in one door and asks to go out another. She is offended to discover that the rain is there, too.†

10/07 Direct Link

My sister and I have been sharing my car. Hers has about a quarter of a million miles on it, and those miles have been on rough, curvy roads. Fortunately, she works nights and I work days, the same days of the week. She pulls up in front of my house while Iím getting ready, and we catch up on each otherís news before she heads home to sleep as the sun comes up. Her house is basically next door to mine, though you canít see it through the woods. Itís good to have family near.

10/08 Direct Link

One of the nice things about my sister driving the car is that when Iím ready to go to work, the windows are clear. Here the windows are almost always fogged up in the morning, partly because of the fog, and partly because it gets so cool at night and so warm during the day. Year-round, there can be 20 or 30 degree differences between night and day, and it can be 10 degrees warmer at my brotherís place, just a quarter of† a mile away, and fogged in a couple of miles down the road.†

10/09 Direct Link

I live five miles from the ocean. As I get nearer to the ďtownĒ (which consists of nothing but a hardware store, grocery store, and post office), there is a certain part where the trees create a frame for the ocean. I never get tired of this ever-changing picture, whether the water is blue or grey or something in between. Sometimes I just want to stop on the narrow, rutted road and gaze at the water. Next stop Hawaii! But I never do, even though I always think about it. Maybe one day Iíll dare to do it.†

10/10 Direct Link

Waking to the rain plunges me into darkness, both outside and in.†Suddenly, Iím convinced that the cold, dark and rain are here to stay†until the spring, which seems an impossibly long way off. In some†ways, I still feel like a child when it comes to time: six months†seems like forever! But on the other hand, the weekend always flies†by.†

When the day finally dawns, itís grey and rainy. As I drive slowly to work, Iím wishing away the dark hours and days. Wishing away my life. †

10/11 Direct Link

The storm has passed, as always. The sunshine, however, doesnít†improve my mood as it usually does. Even the forecast of sunny days†doesnít help. I guess Iím seeing the cloud in†the silver lining these days. If I ever thought ahead about being this†old, I didnít think this was where I would be: working two jobs, still†broke, living in the depths of the country, no health insurance and no†savings. And it doesnít†seem like thereís light at the end of this particular tunnel.

10/12 Direct Link

There are so many things wrong with getting up at 5:30. Itís still dark outside. It looks exactly like night. Itís cold. Even the cats are still asleep. Drinking my thimble of industrial-strength coffee, I dread the idea of jamming contact lenses into my allergy-ridden eyes. Itís not vanity, itís necessity: Iím picking up my sister after her night shift to go to aquafit. You canít jump around in a swimming pool wearing glasses. If I werenít picking up my sister, Iíd go back to bed. But I can't.

10/13 Direct Link

I stop off at the grocery store and post office on my way home. That's pretty much the whole town, other than the hardware store.†In the spring, swallows nest above the post†office door, so thereís a makeshift cardboard shelf under the nest. This time of year, people leave their extra apples and other produce in a box in the post office lobby, free for the taking. On one side of the road, thereís the ocean, and on the other, cows and horses grazing, a black cat sitting still in the middle of the field.†

10/14 Direct Link

I run into a friend at the post office, always a social center for our little community. Heís collecting his mail, and Iím collecting mine. He tells me that a woman who lives across the road from me had a bear visit the night before. The bear climbed up two of her apple trees, clawing the trunks to ribbons, and then smashed down the branches so he could eat all the fruit. So bears can apparently kill trees. Itís strange to think of the huge creature so close to my little house, yet thankfully, so far away.†

10/15 Direct Link

The hazards of country life are different than the hazards of city life. When I lived in the city, I would never have left my car or apartment doors unlocked.† In the country, my house has six doors, but no locks, if I even wanted to lock them. I usually leave the keys in the carís ignition in my driveway, the doors unlocked.† Iím more worried about hitting a deer than about picking up a hitch-hiker.† Deer can appear suddenly out of the dark or the fog, and thereís never just one.

10/16 Direct Link
My landlord has acquired a horse. Apparently, it arrived in a horse trailer at some point during the afternoon. I canít imagine what heís thinking. The horse is two years old, canít be ridden, and will cost a fortune to feed. Thereís no barn or shelter for him, either. My landlord is planning to build something, with the rainy season right around the corner. Of course, heís the same guy who hasnít house-broken his dog, who lives outside all the time. ďYou canít overthink things,Ē he says. But you can underthink them.†
10/17 Direct Link

When things are going badly in your relationship, you canít imagine that theyíll ever go right again. You vanish into a black hole of hopelessness and despair, convinced that itís all over and youíre going to break up. Iím not good at arguments, and Iím not good at drama. I just want a quiet, happy life. Or at least a content one.

But once the air is cleared and things start going right again, itís impossible to believe that theyíll ever go badly again.†Until the next time. It's never easy.

10/18 Direct Link

My sister and I have started to take swimming lessons. We all swam as children, but havenít swum for several years. The local pool held a free swimming clinic, so we went to brush up our skills. I was surprised by how horrified I was - and how instantly - at putting my face in the water and by how difficult I found breathing while I swam. My sister, of course, took to it like a fish to water. Sheís always been unafraid of anything, while Iíve always been afraid of everything. Between us, weíre one normal person.†

10/19 Direct Link

My sisterís dog encouraged me to keep taking swimming lessons. Yes, her dog. The dog was abused and was very fearful, which made her growl and bark. My sister has worked hard to train her and help her stop being fearful. The trainer said that if you pet the dog when sheís afraid, youíre rewarding the fearfulness. So I figured that not pursing the swimming was rewarding my own fearfulness. So I signed up for classes, and eventually, I began to be a little less afraid. I guess not giving up is the most important thing.†

10/20 Direct Link

I took the afternoon off and my sister and I took her old dog Schatzi for a walk on the headlands. Schatzi used to be our motherís dog, and my sister always says that Schatzi is her inheritance. Schatzi is getting old and has lost her hearing, but she hasnít lost her joy in life. It was a pleasure to watch her trotting happily along the path, sniffing merrily as the sun shone warmly on her brindled fur. The fall grasses are the exact shade of her coat, and as I smiled, enjoying the moment, she smiled back.†

10/21 Direct Link

It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful walk. The Pacific was living up to its name, calm and blue in the sparkling sunlight. Since itís late October, I want to enjoy every single sunny day before the rainy season starts. It was wonderful to smell the ocean breeze and feel the sun on my skin, watching my sister's dog happily sniff her way along the path in the sunshine. After the walk, we poked around in the bookstore, then got coffee and headed home, with a happy and sleepy dog in the backseat. It was a good day.†

10/22 Direct Link

Today marks the second anniversary of my moving to Hooterville, as I affectionately call the townette I live near. A lot has happened over the past two years. Some good, some bad. Iíve worked hard on my little house and garden, and Iím pretty happy with the results. Iím still working to overcome my discomfort when driving, especially in the dark Ė nothing is as dark as country dark Ė and my nervousness when swimming. I think moving here has made me a better person Ė a person who appreciates a dewy spider web as much as a glorious sunset.†

10/23 Direct Link

The air smells faintly of wood smoke, a sure sign of the changing seasons Ė many of my neighbors heat their houses with wood stove Ė as are the mushrooms popping up in the woods. The air always smells of pine, eucalyptus, and the ocean. In the summer, the pines smell stringer as the sun warms the sap. The honeysuckle, fuchsias, and passion flowers are still blooming, enjoying the last of the yearís sun as much as I am. The honeysuckle and jasmine are still blooming, and have grown so much over the summer. I'm looking forward to next year's gardening.†

10/24 Direct Link

My landlord and neighbor Mark has acquired a horse. He dropped by one evening with the horse on a tether. Heís a red quarter horse called ďTurboĒ, and heís two years old. He has a leg injury which means he canít be ridden, at least for now. Someone gave him to Mark, presumably so they wouldnít have to deal with the injury. I petted Turbo, who smelled of sweet hay and looked at me with his great, sad brown eyes. He took a carrot from my hand. Iím going to like this new neighbor. †

10/25 Direct Link

Now the sound of Turbo going for his daily walks has been added to the other familiar sounds around here: the wind in the trees; bird song; frogs and crickets; the buzz of hummingbirds; a car swishing past on the Ridge; dogs barking; †the occasional chainsaw; the distant ocean; and Markís daughters laughing and squealing in the way that young girls do. Sometimes they chase each other through the huckleberry bushes and rhododendrons that border my garden, and I get a little flash of what it was like when their grandparents lived in what is now my house.†

10/26 Direct Link

Driving up past Dark Gulch Ė signposted at 15 miles an hour, going up and around, the way roads do here, I am suddenly showered by pale golden morning light falling through† the ancient redwood trees. The light flickering across my windshield, coming out of the darkness into the light, made me feel how very lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place. I can understand why tourists always seem to be slightly surprised that mere mortals live in such a magical place. Itís like telling them you live in fairyland. And in a way, you do.

10/27 Direct Link

I spent a some time in the sunny, fall garden today. I cut back the hosta, which looks so dead I can hardly believe itís actually going to come back in the spring. I dug up another nearly dead rose plant and re-planted it in the good soil I bought earlier this summer (and which is now hiding under a tarp against the winter rains to come). I had such good luck with the Little Rose that Could, a plant which looked nearly dead but came back to life, that Iím hoping for a second miracle.†

10/28 Direct Link

I took a little tour of the garden as I watered it. The passion flower vine is out of control Ė I have to do something there. Tie it up? Move it? I still need to fasten the trellis to the trees where the potato vine is flourishing. I add it to my mental ďto-doĒ list as I check on the geraniums Ė coral, white, and yellow Ė and the purple honeysuckle, which is growing exuberantly up the side of the house. Iím looking forward to the jasmine I planted this summer doing the same thing. Maybe next year.†

††

10/29 Direct Link

Walking around the garden, surveying my little domain, makes me realize how hard Iíve worked on it this year. It was one of my new yearís resolutions, and I definitely kept it. It was a lot of work, and I made some mistakes, but Iíve learned a lot, and I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy how beautiful it is. Probably my favorite additions this year were the two fan palms which a neighbor gave me, as well as two pale yellow Adirondack chairs which came from a yard sale. The perfect place to admire the view.†

10/30 Direct Link

Walking around the garden also reminds me of my father. He was a wonderful gardener, as his mother was before him, and his garden was a beautiful, beautiful place, nothing like the little bit of civilization I have scratched out of gravel, rhododendrons, and redwoods stunted by the harsh ďpygmyĒ soil. His was in London, and full of beautiful flowers, trees, and grass. We used to walk around it in the evening with a glass of wine before dinner, while he pointed out what was new. It was one of the highlights of my visits, something I will always miss.

10/31 Direct Link

Halloween in these parts is strongly influenced by the Mexican traditions of the Day of the Dead. I like the idea of going to the cemetery with your family and picnicking with your ancestors by candlelight, bringing flowers and gifts for the graves. It makes death part of the cycle of life, and makes you feel that those you have lost are still with you in a way. At least, they are still in your heart, where my own parents are. I know that they are always with me, their blood running through my veins and memories in my heart.†