Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Storm in October

Yesterday this was a nicely-swept patio.

I swept it clean of the piles of hopseed seeds (I suppose they look like hops) because I had this idea that if it rained on the drifts, they would become like cement. There was a fair amount of effort involved, because at this time of year the hopseeds let loose their branches and flutter to the ground. Knowing that there were heavy rains involved as well as high winds, I'm not sure why I thought I should make the effort.

As you can tell, that effort was pointless. The sparrows could not find their birdseed under the hopseeds, the bluejay was damp and disconsolate that there were no peanuts to be had, and there will be no less work for me in cleanup than had I not bothered to sweep the patio before.

It's a fine example of a storm out there, with high winds (gusting to 40 mph, they say) and a substantial amount of rain. The nice thing is that it's not a COLD storm, so Lillian and Sebastian and Howie -- and a little later -- her friend Megan from up the street were able to play in the gutters and the rain until they were soaked and chilled. (Outside temp about 60 degrees.) Since the winds were out of the south, our garage was sheltered, so Bernie and I watched the storm (and the girls and dogs) after lunch until he had to get ready for work.

I came into the house and made a fire, which is taking that clammy edge off the house, and providing a comforting focal point.
Bernie, driving through weather-crazed traffic on his way to work (his commute took a half-hour extra because of all the accidents), suggested I go out and net up all the stuff that blew off the neighbor's sequoias into our pool.

Can you guess what I told him in reply?

I'm looking forward to Thursday or Friday's horse ride to see what happened to the orchards in this mess. The air will be CLEAN, though I suspect a lot of trees will be down due to recent shaking and the wet and the wind.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Dirty Air of Harvest

Almond blossoms. They scent the air with perfume in February, turning Winter's bare branches into pale pink and snowy bouquets.

Yes. That was then, and this is now. Most of the blossoms, having matured into tasty nuts, have been shaken from the trees by a machine with a giant claw, blown or swept across the bare and dry soil by sweepers and blowers, sucked up off the dirt by gigantic vacuum cleaners, and shot into trailers to go to the hulling mill.

The very fine dust that was shaken from the trees as well, blown and swept across the orchards, sucked up and thrown into the air ... has stayed there. Well, for the most part. Some of it has dropped onto houses and shrubbery and sidewalks and sinuses.

I rode through the orchards today, noting which quadrants were done, which were still to be shaken or swept or hoovered up, hoping that I'd be able to avoid a thick cloud of dust. Fortunately we did, or the wind was blowing in an auspicious direction. Although by the time I was home I felt caked with dust on my skin, I had experienced the sweet, delicious scent of kiwi fruit wafting from their little orchard.