Wednesday, November 17, 2004


While I was in California last week, most of "fall" happened on our hill. When I left town last Wednesday, the local deciduous trees were covered in red and gold leaves. Arriving home on Saturday afternoon, I noticed that many of those leaves had fallen.

The two horse chestnuts across the street, enormous old trees that fill most of the view from my home office windows, had, in just a few days, dropped most of their large golden leaves at their feet, in the road, even onto the planting strip on our side of the street. These leaves dry up and turn brown almost immediately upon falling. If the weather is dry, they form the sort of lovely piles of which children's leaf-jumping memories are made. When wet, they rather quickly turn to mush. This year, it's looking like mush. The trees' branches now form a dark fractal pattern against the sky. This is the time of year when our house comes closest to having a mountain view. On clear days - and there are some, even during the rainiest Seattle winter - the snowy tops of the Olympics will be visible through the branches.

On Saturday, our two trees (alder? beech? white bark and heart-shaped leaves) had lost only half of their bright yellow leaves, which formed a solid carpet over the brick patio in our back yard. I had fantasies of raking over the weekend, but they remained only fantasies. Now that we've had some more rain, most of the leaves are down. The windy weather forecast for tomorrow should just about finish the job, as well as bringing down some of the smaller, more fragile branch ends. If I don't do it this weekend, raking will be added to the "keep my parents busy" list for Thanksgiving weekend.

The other aspect of fall that has truly arrived is falling temperatures, particularly at night. I love sleeping in a fairly cool house, under a toasty warm down comforter. One side effect of the cooler house is that the McKittens have increased their heat-seeking maneuvers. Yesterday morning, I awakened to find that Paul and all three cats were close beside or on top of me. Paul was sleeping against my back. Sasha and Sergei were head-to-tail next to me, on top of one of my arms. Lyra was hunkered down on my shoulder. Why, with all this warm coziness, did I wake before the alarm? Sergei's tail was twitching, Lyra was batting at it... and they were both hitting my face. My sleepy attempts to stop this annoyance without disturbing the cats failed; they all headed for the foot of the bed and beyond. Paul rolled over, but didn't wake. Twenty-five minutes 'til my alarm. I was already falling asleep again as I pulled the comforter up, and snuggled up to Paul.