Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In the October Country

And here it is, the 7th of October already. It's a cold, gray, soggy, hunched-shoulders sort of day, here in Minnesota. The rain pours down in cold, fat drops, thinning from time to time to a fine mist that seems to penetrate everywhere and chill everything, but the ecstatic cloudbursts of spring and terrifying thunderstorms of summer are only memories now. These are the fall rains; the autumn rains: the cold-soakers, the day-long worm drownders, that fall as quietly as rain can fall and beat the dying leaves off the trees, churning them into a soggy brown mass in the gutters and plugging the downspouts with something that resembles great wads of well-chewed tobacco.

Not a good day to have arthritis. My left hand is more like a claw than a fine manipulator today. Me and Django Reinhardt, we have a lot in common.

The geese have for the most part flocked up and left, streaming south in great formations. The egrets and herons seem to have vanished overnight, as if one of them one day looked up, sniffed the wind, and said, "Pass the word. It's time." One day every pond and pothole around here seemed to have at least one snowy white egret, wading through the shallows in search of frogs and minnows. The next day, they were gone.

Maybe they just got cold feet. There was frost on the ground in the low parts of the cow pasture, twice last week.

The cornstalks in the fields are turning dry and pale, and getting impatient to meet the harvester. The ash trees and box elders have gone to yellow, and some are even bare already. Most of the oaks are still mostly green, but here and there some of the more highly stressed maples have shouted, "I can't take it anymore!" and gone up in a scream of red. Entire hillsides are abaze with staghorn sumac.

It would be beautifully and brilliantly colorful, if only it would stop raining.

This past month has been... interesting. The Kid's new school schedule is proving problematic. Dawn comes at about 7:15 these days, and the sun, when it does appear, now crests the horizon on the south side of the road. To catch his bus he's got to be up and getting fed and dressed in the dark — we have them newfangled electric lightbulb thingies here, and I don't know why he doesn't turn a few of them on — so by the time I'm up and have made sure he's fed, clothed, and out the door in time to catch his schoolbus, my morning writing time is pretty much shot. I'm making a special exception today, because I've fallen so badly off my schedule, but I'll pay for this on the back end of the afternoon.

The housing crisis has ceased to be an abstraction for us. One of the adult children got overextended, lost the house, and had to move back in with us for a while, in preparation for rebooting into adulthood. I understand people of my parent's and grandparent's generation routinely had three or even four generations living under the same roof. I don't know how they did it. My grandmother eloped when she was 16; my parents when they were 19. I have no points of reference on this journey. I'm making it all up as I go.

I've been doing a lot of interviews lately. The reason I've been so in-demand eluded me until one interviewer pointed out that as of November, it's officially the 25th Anniversary of the first publication of "Cyberpunk." Good Lord, has it really been twenty-five years? No wonder I feel so old.

Or maybe it's just the rain, and the work schedule. Blogging is going to continue to be light and variable for the foreseeable future. I've got three major writing projects to get wrapped up and delivered in the next three months, and we're reevaluating Rampant Loon's project plans, as about 30% of our working capital has simply evaporated in the past two weeks. I will get the Friday Challenge back on track; I promise you that. I've got four winners to announced, and a really good Halloween challenge in mind that I think you'll like. But my goal at this point is simply to get back to doing one major post in the Sunday/Monday time frame and to jump-start the Friday Challenge.

Just thought you might want to know what's been going on lately.