Fall comes early on the mountain. This year, it has appeared with more of the unseasonably wet weather Colorado has been having all summer long. Nights have been so cool, I’ve had to close windows open for months to June and July air. Mornings are downright chilly.
There’s change everywhere: Days shorten. Suddenly it’s dark at 8pm and the mornings are dusky and quiet, noticeably absent of early robins and wrens.
|Fire on the mountain|
Hummers are fewer at the feeder each day; in a matter of days they will be gone again until April.
The resident grey squirrel, Maurice, is busy pulling pine cones apart near the woodpile, running back and forth, back and forth, getting ready for winter.
And I saw the first yellow leaves on a cottonwood yesterday.
But perhaps most important, I am packing to leave.
|View from the cabin|
The city-dwelling boyfriend is saying goodbye to the city to be with me, but we are uncertain where we will land. Mountain homes are hard to come by. For the first time in over 15 years, I may find myself living with streetlights and traffic noise and neighbors within a stone’s throw.
|elvis and me|
I’ve lived on this mountain for 10 years, and suddenly, my hands are full of memories and meals and seasons. When I moved here, the cabin was a refuge for me and my dog, elvis, after my house burned down and I’d lost everything. In those days, the solitude helped smooth over what the fire had taken. And then slowly, year by year, I grew my life back. In 40 seasons, I’ve built a garden, walked the land, made friends with a fox, met the man I love.
|The Fox Who Came to Dinner|
The ground has been fertile.
I have been thinking of ways to celebrate a place that has given me so much.
So last week, Greg and I laid out in my yard and watched the stars, bright smears of incandescent dust in the night sky. We tracked satellites and a few planes and one or two shooting stars. We lay on the earth for an eternity, time rolling out before us, vast as the night sky.
The next morning I made a galette with Palisade peaches–this year as juicy as I’ve ever had. Greg marveled at the color of the peaches and I swore I could taste the sun in their skins. We shared the galette with coffee on the deck, surrounded by potted pansies, lobelia, and trailing petunia while the hummingbirds whirred overhead.
This weekend Greg and I will look for places to live from Jamestown to Longmont, and then host our friends Tyler and Dan, who love good food and naughty conversation. I will make all the things that have made me happy for summers on the mountain and celebrate the ebbing of the season. We’ll have an amuse buche of skewered grilled pork belly and peaches from the last of the summer fruit crop and then chilled corn soup poured over hot garlic shrimp, a dish I made for Greg on our first night at the house. For the main, I’ll serve grilled rack of lamb which has been marinating overnight in olive oil with fresh rosemary and local Chesnok red garlic, along my Italian grandfather’s tomato salad made with heirlooms, fresh parsley and scallion, plenty of olive oil and balsamic, topped with caper-filled anchovies—foods as familiar as the path through the woods to the peeper pond where I have taught writing classes for years. But there will also be a minted pea puree—something I’ve never made–a surprise of texture and color contrasting the bolder flavors on the plate.
We’ll eat with my recently deceased grandmother’s silver on ceramic plates imported from Italy and toast each other with kir royales. There will be pleasure in sharing food that is both familiar and new on a late summer night in a place that has been more than home to me. As I sit on the deck beneath aspens and flowers, on a mountain that has witnessed so much change in my life, I will smile and remind myself that an end is also a beginning.
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