Slip, Slidin’ into Autumn

Our lows are in the forties now—great sleeping weather!—and the first yellow lines lace the leaves like veins in a body. In two weeks gigantic splashes of yellow (aspens) and persimmon (serviceberry) will splash the hillsides as if a greater power had a temper tantrum with a handful of crayons. Random groves of flame-tipped aspens will flambouyantly overshadow everything.

While my literary agent shops my latest manuscript I’m preparing for what comes next—a season of snow and cold—just like my four-legged friends. About the best that can be said for winter here is that we have beautiful powder for skiing and snowboarding. For the mere mortals among us, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing draw us outdoors.

Porcini, anyone?

Thanks to one of the best mushroom-foraging seasons in years I have enough dried porcini and hawkswing to flavor soups throughout the winter. I’ll make a fine sherry-based porcini gravy to serve with our Thanksgiving tenderloins, feeling absolutely no guilt that turkey and I have finalized our divorce, and I no longer have to serve the bird.

My guide, me (with the winning fish on the right), my daughter, and her guide.
My daughter has figured out that a fish held forward, toward the camera, bigger. Even if it ISN’T.
Almost thirty-five pounds of salmon in less than an hour. Yes, my arms hurt.

I returned from the fishing tournament a couple of weeks ago, victorious with a chinook that was half-a-pound heavier than my daughter’s largest.

In true Big-Fish-Goddess fasion I landed the salmon, and its smaller friend, in the last thirty minutes of the competition. (As the tournamnet master weighed the winning fish, I distinctly heard my daughter say something unladylike before erupting in somewhat maniacal, hysterical laughter.) But she boated a thirty-eight-pound halibut—like hauling a Steinway grand from a trench deep on the ocean floor while praying that a shark doesn’t take it for a snackiepoo—so claimed bragging rights in the bottom-dweller division.

This young lady has been resting in the back garden off and on for several weeks.

Bear activity here has reached peak proportions, and I never step into the garden without checking first for a hungry predator. The spots on the fawns are fading, and every doe looks exhausted. I stopped spraying Deer Off a couple of weeks ago, welcoming them to gorge themselves in my garden as they brace for a tough winter.

Penelopoe, named after the cartoon character, Penelope Pitstop

I’m riding Penelope twenty miles a week—she’s quite popular with the Farmers Market crowd—and golf is a great way to take advantage of a beautiful season in a magnificent place. (I’m thankful.) Next week my fly-fishing guide, who became a close friend so long ago that he’s family now, and I will end the season with our traditional meatloaf sandwiches, Fritos, and pumpkin cookies. We’ll be the boat of semi-geezers, catching and releasing loads of trout, peeping at the changing leaves, laughing at the noises we now make as we struggle with a fish or the oars.

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