Rain has soaked the earth in our neck of the woods since some time in mid October, so much rain in fact, that there were run-off streams rushing down the hill that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. The return of the rain season is at last on time, calming everybody’s nerves and we’re settling into a bit of a post fire season bliss. At present we’re having a spell of warm clear days after all that rain. So clear and mild out early this morning I was able to get out with my camera while Juno & Jeff went to dog class and I had a beautiful sunrise all to my self! Mid Autumn, and the golden oaks and maple trees are glowing, turning of the season in balance and everything in its place. What is new: a thing showed up at the very end of October, and if you’re wondering what that odd photo of a small bit of machinery is, its an Ashford electric spinner folks! I write with exclamation and excitement, but to be honest, I’m not sure I’m so crazy about it. I much prefer spinning on my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel any day, but in recent months I have been unable to sit at the treadle wheel without a bit of back pain, or sitting at all for too long. So I couldn’t resist the temptation to try one, as my newly chronic back situation caused a bit of a dilemma, the optimal plan in doing so is that I am able to spin and ply while standing! I must admit in its favor, that it is quite a thrill to ply off several hundred grams of singles bobbins at lightening speed, something that perhaps in time I will find a real benefit from. Until then, its in the closet while the beautiful Ashford Traditional is out of the closet. And Juno is eight months old this week ! Although her behavior is full tilt puppy still, and lots of misbehaving and testing her humans, she’s getting an adult coat of fur and looking quite beautiful . . .
I discovered today is very special. Counting back seventeen days before the wildfire, insert 2 years away from original home, then 2 years back in rebuilt home, forward seventeen days, mirror-reversed, bridges today with the Autumn equinox 2017. How special that is to me, because on the equinox four years ago I was finishing up my knitting trail, posted A rustic place . Today, I feel in a calm peaceful hopeful mood, and with determination, bracing myself and imagining starting the knitting trail over again. The forest was badly burned, dead & dying trees falling everywhere, soot and little pockets of ash even still in some places. In 2018 the loggers tore into it and left big open spaces, and so many really old tall firs on the lower leg of the trail disappeared. Gone. Since then there has been Jurassic regrowth of bizarre tall weeds and thorny shrubs taking over, a few pine and fir saplings, and thousands upon thousands of baby madrones. All this new growth beneath a surprising number of big firs still standing, although torched badly at their bases.
It matters not when I will complete the knitting trail all over again, but this mirror-reversed day in the timeline of things is very healing, letting the forest show me how the time passed is longer back home than was away from home, and every day now that passes heals it a little more. Something in the archives of memory is willing it seems, to start forgetting the sad and the bad times.
So, sometime this Autumn, with Juno running wild as she will, I will begin again finding the path anew in that very unique place that is the knitting trail, through and among tens of thousands of madrone trees growing furiously, completely carpeted over the old trail. That is, as soon as it dries up a little from the torrential rain we’ve been having, and I’ve been loving every drop ~~ today I am hopeful and facing forward!
Its been a while since I’ve posted Juno,
and now she’s already 7 months old!
We are desperately waiting for the first rain, due any day now.
Fields are golden and dry as parchment,
needing to be dampened down, to rest my worry.
Thats us here and now, midway through October.
Where does the time go, hmm?
Sun has entered Libra, and I imagine rains coming, with a frantic sort of glee. Even though this year is like recent years, the dryest time, and most wildfire prone place on earth it seems to me, yet my mind remembers Autumn to be an awakening of moss, of first soft rains, of dewy grasses on the wayside of morning walks, and the papery leaves falling to the ground, speckled. I hope very soon a cooling trend, and I throw the memories of seasons passed into the compost as dried flowers. My mark of the equinox seems to be well expressed by the light & shadow in the posts & beams, and so I have gotten into an Autumn Equinox series I suppose, by recapturing the same scene every year. My favorite Autumn, and wishes for everybody a happy time!
I have attempted to replicate a photo I posted on the Autumn Equinox 2017, and about two weeks after that original photo was posted, our house had burned to ashes in the Nuns Wildfire. In the many months following the fire, it was that very post that I gazed at with such a heavy heart of grief and longing. But today is the day of days! As I photograph the same angle of the new rebuilt house, at same time of day, on the same day of the year, I recapture the warmth of that moment again, as the lazy equinox sun sinks low in the afternoon to the west. I feel like I’ve come full circle, having just posted it up to date, home again with everything in its place (sans ceiling fan and squiggly iron rail), not quite finished but very cozy. I am kind of collapsing into a fuzzy warm celebratory mood, a bit weary of the long journey back to my House of Light & Shadow, although I am nothing but colossally grateful. Happy Equinox everyone!
Walking along a foggy path in the late afternoon, in late Autumn, I observe the season expiring after the heavy rain last week. Everything seems to be falling to the ground, exhausted. Soon there will be new grass popping up.
The last of the gold leaves wave in the breeze, as if to say “I’m tired, and it is time to go”, and the vines surely have given all their energy growing grapes for 2019 Harvest, and will wait bare until pruning time in late winter, leaving the trellises standing like soldiers in a winter field.
The stinging needles on the star thistle rot and become harmless, muted into the dull brown grass.
The fog surely lays burden to the spider webs, and even though nature is bedding down, the creatures are stirring.
The oaks are shedding leaves and covering the ground, another layer of compost for the soil, two years after the wildfire is nothing less than a treasure.
Yet some of what was dormant is now waking up, becoming lush, verdant, alive, as is the story of the moss.
So near to the solstice, I believe this little foggy outing has put me in the mood for more walking and writing, for it is at these times when I most intensely feel my existence. Rituals of coffee and chores, punctuated with knitting, walks, short naps, and contemplative writing, are my comfort as I get older. Peaceful and nearly silent my days tumble over one another, seemingly inconsequential, but if only to witness my landscape as it goes through the seasons. And I am happy it is so.
We’ve spent two nights so far in the new house, so we’ve officially moved in, even though the construction mess is ongoing, we’re all just happy to be finally home. Now I’m busy cleaning out the tiny house to its former glory before two humans, a dog, and countless spiders inhabited it for seventeen months, while Jeff continues the finish building. I woke this morning early and watched the rose-gold sunrise, while Emma in her Help’emUp harness acclimates to the new front porch, as that was one of her favorite places before, where she use to spend hours napping in the early mornings.
This morning I went for a first walk from new home into the nearby vineyard. Its harvest in the California Highlands, and the grapes up on the mountain are ripening to perfection.
We are back home, it is Autumn, and life is good.
I have begun collecting little treasures from Autumn ; a leaf from a Black Oak turning gold, a curl of Madrone bark, and a freshly fallen Douglas Fir cone. It was almost a year ago in Autumn that I found this novelty . . .
Now the vintage Four Posts are finally kitted out with a mattress and bedding, and so I’m going to fling off my shoes and curl up on it with some strong coffee in a demitasse, made in a jezve (my thing lately) with fresh shortbread just out of the oven, and contemplate which small quilt I will attempt to make first from “Civil War Legacies” by Carol Hopkins.
The loft room (still without a door as you can see), the kitchen, and upstairs bathroom are the only rooms in the house able to be used thus far, while the main part of the house remains a mess of building, tile dust, and tools. But there is rumor ringing through the rafters, that we may move in this coming weekend, or should I say move out of the tiny house . . . fingers crossed!
Yesterday I met my nieces in Calistoga at the Roastery, we had a little catching up over coffee & tea, then they put on their new Hillwalker sweaters, and this time we headed straight down to the Castle in St Helena for the photo shoot. They absolutely shone against the old hand-cut stone in their Autumn sweaters!
A fabulous time, and the usual stellar results! Oh, and behind the scenes my nieces are now also my assistants as well as my models, doing a great job of stepping in to preen as needed… real professionals! Click and check out these fun unexpected sneak shots…
Hillwalker pattern is available HERE.
But before you go, click on the first image in the mosaic, and view a much more extensive slide show of the whole photo shoot…
Out walking I see the Mayacamas mountains rolling southerly down into their foothills.
I am enjoying Autumn now that the leaves are beginning to cover
the blackened forest floor from last year
This sparse ground cover is only the beginning of the leaf fall,
they will continue to flutter down until winter is here.
I woke today after having seemingly dreamed almost consciously about a new fresh start in life walking a little more every day, away from stress of the wildfire, restoring a positive feeling about myself and my life, so that when the house is finally ready for us to move into it, I will be rebuilt too. Its been a rough year for me, hands down, and I have existed in a self spun cocoon trying to not think about the stressful things, but I really do believe committing to walking increased distances will cure all that is wrong in my world. Just one walk at a time.
Introducing the Hillwalker sweater duo…
(and photographed with my walking stick!)
I have now finished both the pullover and the cardigan,
and that means Hillwalker is now two patterns for one download !
♣ ♣ ♣
Today is the one-year anniversary of the historic Northern California Firestorm which burned through two counties and thousands of homes, including our own. Such an anniversary of loss seems to be a time to test resilience, rising above hardship, and moving beyond the grief toward healing happier times. As I walk on the mountain, I feel the loss, and regrowth in such an overwhelming way.
There are so many dead trees, but surprisingly, there are many that are alive.
This Autumn comes as a relief, now I can focus on what is ahead, and what is new, fresh, and positive. Life is short, its over in a blink, and we have every ability to control our attitude. I’ve learned one very important thing through the experience of this last year, and that is the only thing we can truly own is our attitude, and the accomplishments of our mind. The rest is just material & prone to ashes.
♣ ♣ ♣
Frantic artful ‘good mood’ music because things are shifting into action! Meaning that we have been issued our building permit finally, after a grueling long wait, and house rebuilding can start at last! The Autumnal Equinox is Saturday, and I am going to celebrate!
This music reminds me what I have been missing, a familiar manic wave now only whispering, approaching me without touching, as if to assure me of its return, and that all will be in a far better place very soon.
Oh, and this trio just hits the spot doesn’t it! Be sure to listen to Trio Brasileiro videos as they queu up, because these tunes are deservedly among my favorites and might become yours too!
I met my nieces at the Roastery in Calistoga this morning, then we hit the four corners … It was a stellar success! It has been a couple of months since the Autumnal Equinox … I worried I’d never finish … Continue reading
Late morning light is pouring in through the southern skylight and the roof beams glow as the sun enters into Libra. On this equinox there are equal hours of day as there are of night, and that is indeed something to mark in the marching of time and of earth’s unwavering spinning around the sun, so I say ~~ Hello Autumn, please come in and make yourself comfortable!
Happy equinox everyone!
Emma and I are pushing ourselves to complete the knitting trail, and it will be indeed a rapturous and celebratory finish!
The equinox is in only two short days.
I’m sure we’ll make it, we are already more than three-quarters the way done!
Big Leaf Maples and Black Oaks are beginning to shed their leaves, and the acorns and fir cones are dropping too. In this rustic state of being the spicy Autumnal fragrance is faintly rising in the forest, and I am ready to crash into this season with transformative momentum, leaning into it with all of my weight, as I leave Summer’s oppressive heat, lazy days and restless nights behind me.
See you on the flipside!
I am so looking forward to upcoming Autumn equinox, now only less than two weeks away! We survived an incredible record heat wave last weekend, and mid-week there started a cooling trend, when about Wednesday it actually rained!!! Just a little drizzle, but it soaked into everything nearly lifeless and started a pulse to the landscape again, which I seem to be a barometer for. I’m seeing that lovely fog in the valley below again, like a snowy lake, in the early mornings.
I am merrily going through my paces, and thrilled that Emma is perking up and wanted to go for a walk yesterday! A couple of weeks ago her vet prescribed a half pill of meloxicam daily, and that is now beginning to take effect I think. She is all around moving as well as she was before her surgery early August — her sore hip seems better, with limp barely noticeable some days. ((Arthritis of hips & elbows is the bane of existence for older German Shepherd dogs in case you must be informed, although that is really difficult for me to refer to my Emma in this way, because ~~~ she is my fur child! )) Anyway, on our way back to the house from our short walk Emma grabbed a stick, her old game of ‘chase me’ which made me so happy, and away we went, for a faux chase! (right, not a fox chase, but a faux chase).
I’ve got so many things I have queued up for Autumn, but for now its just knitting my nieces’ sweaters, indeed very late this year, but they won’t be worn until probably late October anyway, so I’m aiming for an early October finish. Also, I’ve begun trail-making in earnest again, determined to ‘walk me arse off’ and regain fitness I’ve lost over a very slothful spring and summer, moping around empathetically with Emma. So knit-walking… here I go!
All is well, in this place, and for now.
Went out for a lovely knitting walk in the late afternoon today, and caught the golden fields at their height and most fragrant as the rain has come, and it won’t be long before they become dull and brown and beaten down by the strong winds up here on the ridge.
Leaves falling along one of our newer trails, a shortcut home through the edge of black oak woods (can you see the sticks ahead which mark the path?). Emma and I have really upped our game, and are walking religiously since day one of Autumn , and I’m knitting bunches as we walk. Grateful that Autumn has greeted us with some cool weather and…. did I mention that it rained last night? Everything is in its place, and life is good.
Another sweater success! However we rather fell out of tradition this time not photographing in Calistoga , but yet again at the castle which is my niece’s favorite photo place. Few words this post , but I promise to be more talkative of details about the cardigan when pattern is ready, and it is forthcoming shortly!
Happy Autumn Equinox everyone! It is in recent years, my favorite day of the year. This morning the equinox occurred at 7:21 in the morning, and I planned to get to my secret knitting spot on one of my trails, overlooking a vineyard and hazy Mt Diablo in the distance, only about a ten-minute walk from my door at the most. Here are some more photos of our little early morning walk out to greet the new season…
Emma enjoyed the scent of the fresh wildlife tracks from the night, and I enjoyed the brilliant angled light fuzzing through the trees. We then reached our secret spot on time, about 7:20, here standing on the big stump of a very large fir, gives a wonderful vantage point of the area we live in.
The light at sunrise had an amber glow and the air is cool. I thoroughly love this little loop in the woods next to my house, at first light. Tomorrow and often in the days following, I think I will come here to greet the sunrise and feel Autumn’s transitory beauty. Perhaps a thermos of tea and sit on the stump here, knit, and thoroughly enjoy the season as the leaves slowly turn.
I also have a little new knitting going on, but I won’t give details for another week or so…
Enjoy your first-day-of-Autumn and happy knitting!
Its a glorious time of year! Although the temperature is oppressively hot and a layer of dust covers nearly everything, there is an anticipatory glee happening all at the same time, for we are days away from the Autumn Equinox!
And perfectly on schedule, two cardigans come off the needles and sit folded, well-mannered and patient, waiting for the eventful day (hopefully soon) they meet their people~~ Miss Sixteen & Miss Thirteen…
I’ll not say a self-promoting word about what pattern these are knit from or anything like that, I’ll just say that I’ve spent the better part of 6 weeks merrily throwing stitches for these plain & simple sweaters. One last detail to do, the hand-made label…
And now they are indeed done & dusted. I always feel a huge sense of accomplishment at this point in the year, all ready for the rains to fall, whenever it will be, who knows, but I look forward to that first sprinkle like candy falling from the sky.
Next time you see these babies, they’ll be on my nieces in Calistoga, for the traditional annual Autumn Sweater photo session. Autumn is on its way, and life is good!
Early this morning I walked to my secret hidden knitting spot which from a neighboring high mountain vineyard overlooks a landscape of beautiful mountain ridges. I caught the sun illuminating the gold on vines, and maple trees, a lovely sight which always takes my breath away. Oh look! Hot air balloons making their way from the valley floor up the side of the mountain!
This morning, I managed to get a shrouded view of the majestic Mt Diablo in the background. Can you see it there, in the foggy atmosphere?
This one is from yesterday morning, with the rather strikingly deco-esque water tank. . .
The forested paths seem to sparkle now with golden leaves falling from the trees to the ground, I just love to knit while wandering over these paths which meander through the rustic forest.
The chill of Autumn has begun to take hold. We’ve had some rain with more on the way, and the landscape is now turning shades of gold-to-crimson… and with shy sprouts of grasses coming up! These weeks have been busy for me, as I’ve managed to make a string of six new patterns in a relatively short space~~ Altitude Cowls and Mitts (the last being the Twist Mitts)
Its time for walks shuffling through rustling leaves, fires in the wood-stove, and the kettle whistling as mugs are filled and sipped throughout the day ((my new favorite is fresh ginger tea!)) . . . and of course knitting till the cows come home for holiday gifts. Being already past mid-November there are only a short five weeks left to this year, but I am working steady on the designing as well as keeping a firm hold on the homestead.
Hoping lots of merriment to you this coming Thanksgiving Holiday!
I have used a lovely yarn of alpaca-wool blend called Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, which I really love, and adorned not with a pompom or toorie, or beret loop ~~ but a Dorset Button.
That is the news from my neck o’ the woods, and I’m roaring along rather productively on another mitt design, soon to be done & dusted with it. I hope you are all having a wonderful Autumn and enjoying the turning of leaves and things to gold & rust, as I am. Its a slow turning in Northern California, but it is beginning!
A little pocketful of acorns I gathered on my walk this morning. The black ones are from the Canyon Live Oak, and the smaller light tan one is from the black oak. Anyway, the oak leaves from around here have hardly begun to change color & drop, and the Black Oaks won’t be completely bare until late December.
Still a bit of an Indian Summer here, with very warm temperatures, and just waiting for that first rapturous rain, to herald in true Autumn. More shots of changing landscape in days forthcoming, perhaps of the oak trees their Autumn turning… but for now I’m becoming transfixed & transformed on my walks, kicking through the leaves and acorns, enjoying myself completely!
Just in from a walk on my trail this morning and I found this stag’s antler. The amazing thing is, of all the hundreds of miles I’ve put into trail walking in my life, this is the first antler I have ever found! Its partially nibbled by some rodent (rather badly on the other side) and Emma sure wanted to get a hold of it ! I’ll admire it for a while, and then I’ll make horn buttons from it one day, an undeniable certainty.
I’m welcoming this Autumn Equinox today with a new habit to acquire, of walking on my own trails every single day. Twice a day often as possible, if not three. Moving mossy stones ‘just so’ out of the way, and preening as I go, a lot of carrying pruners to trim back bits and a bow saw for when a tree falls across…the only way a trail can transform from a deer path to a park-like setting is to walk it and groom as you go. The test of finish being that I am able to knit while I walk the trail.
Today is the first morning one of my favorite season ~ and with a bit of an ominous Autumnal find !
” f ” is for Finnegan,
and also for ” fall ” .
. . . and ” e ” is for Eleanor.
but also for ” equinox “.
That’s not the end of it ! I must continue through this kid’s knitting delirium as I work steady towards the imminent pattern… as oh… there must be a pattern! Yes, so I am casting on for one last, another, a test knit official for this kids’ pullover pattern, and I hope to get ‘er ready to come out and play by the Autumn Equinox. But these little pullovers are getting sent off to Jeff’s little g-kids right away, and you’ll have to excuse me for being a little quiet for a while, but I have got a lot of work to do so I can soon be f-is-for- finished !
Oh how the last of the leaves are stubbornly hanging on to their twigs,
and they land sometimes seeming reluctantly so …
Tomorrow a huge rain storm is on it’s way, to hit in the night and thrash for a couple of days. I have a hill-walking date in the morning with a friend, and we’ll go come hell or high-water!
On the knitting front, all is going well, more photos in days ahead of finished happy endings of knitterly things, bathed in wintery light of day, but for now, a sneak peek of what appears to be a candy roll of some tasty tartan & tweedy thing…
Greeting the long shadows of morning as the sun’s rays shot through the pines on the crest of the ridge…
Capturing the sun streaming through black oak leaves soon to fall …Greeted the Sleeping Princess (Mt Tamalpais) as she lay like rolling blue ocean waves in the distance…
And Mt. Diablo as we started up, a stones throw from the house… and you can see the yellow patches in the trees where there is Autumnal color starting.
At the rocky top, another view across the ridges which frame the upper Napa Valley …
Most of all we enjoyed the contemplative early morning trek, with bright morning sun, mountain air, and knitting all going so perfectly together I think. Looking forward to another like it each day this Autumn, as we have been out nearly every single day . Turning of the season continues to be wonderful this way. Life is good.
We’ve continued our walks nearly everyday this Autumn.
Out in the freshly rained-on moss, and romping around and smelling things.
( Emma tends to like to stick her whole head into tree caves…)
The really remarkable thing is, that while we were walking in the woods, I was knitting the very colors of the moss on oak bark, and it took me by surprise how much I reflect the colors of my surroundings.
Knitting in nature is one of the things I love to do most of all.
And now just back from a walk, out rather late we went up the ridge a little ways, by the high vineyard, (um… which is sorely lacking a vineyard for the present)…
Then we turned around , and went into the woods. Here , knitting poised on a log, and with not much progress from the last photo of it….
Then we decided to explore and left the trail, began crawling through and over all sorts of things, collecting all sorts of burrs and stuff in our hair, to scout out new places.
Oh look! Another huge mushroom growing from a dead tree!
… we ended up at a rather tall henge-like rock out-cropping I did not recognize.
(I’ll take another photo of this place another time soon, in the mist, for affect).
Seriously though, with different angles to the familiar places, I thought there for a few minutes we were lost. (not really that would be rather impossible) A glance easterly and I see Mt Diablo in the distance, a good bearing.
Sure enough, after scrambling through a few bushes, there it was !
A great little secret picnic & knitting spot, wouldn’t you say?
Have you been out on any walks this Autumn yet?
Emma and I have been out walking (and I knitting while walking) everyday this Autumn so far, and plan to walk everyday for the remainder of Autumn, bringing camera and sharing photos often here and celebrate the best time of year ! Harvest is in process, finished in this particular vineyard a stone’s throw from where we live. We passed it along our forest paths near by. Then Emma spied a big yellow fungus !!!
On through hilly & hollow lands we walk….
And just around this bend (from the opposite direction of last hike posted) we end up back home …
I know two posts in one day. Its just that I wanted to share with you all my first walk of Autumn. We were out in the early hourse on this first morning of Autumn, knitting while hiking about the woods a bit, then hauling on up the ridge to the peak of the mountain (at 2600′ elevation.) There were beautiful views of the distant ridges along the way up. Mt. Diablo in the distance, rather southerly (to the right behind the trees)…
Then higher up, looking more westerly, a grand shot of Mt. Tamalpais, named by the indigenous Native Americans meaning “Sleeping Princess” (did you know Mt Tam is where mountain-biking was invented?) …
Then at the peak, overlooking Napa Valley, easterly, and the sun was already high …
We went down our favorite well-trodden paths on the way home…
and our favorite short-cut deer trails…
I hope your start of Autumn (or Spring) is equally as happy as mine.
What are you up to?
I’m ecstatic for two reasons. For one, the Autumnal Equinox has turned, and two, both sweaters I set out to design & knit by the equinox are done & dusted! I did have to reknit an awful lot too. This is all you get to see of them for now, but we have the date set with my nieces to give them these and they will model them and we will have a boatload of fun with a photo shoot in Calistoga, and then you’ll get to see photos galore of them. Then sometime in October I will buckle down get the pattern done & dusted too. But for now, just a happy chirpy sort of pleased-with-myself post on the first day of Autumn.