This November has been a month of dealing with change. As the moon grew full the first week of the month, days were seasonably warm though occasional nighttime lows dipped below freezing—a harbinger of an arctic blast descending from the north. Animals and birds seemed to sense that change was in the air long before we did. Blue birds and purple finches flocked at a water basin on the porch in an aerial dance that mirrored a ballet.  Squirrels scurried under dry fallen leaves looking for acorns to bury before the ground was too hard to dig into.  A persistent flicker pecked a hole in the side of the house until we coaxed him away to a suet feeder on our T-post clothesline pole.

by Cathy Salter

While maples, oaks and sweet gums showed off their brilliant reds, orange tones and yellows as if competing for a prize, my head was filled with many thoughts, none of which had anything to do with gardening, mulching, checking chimney flues, clearing leaves from gutters, or completing the seasonal clothes closet move.  All I wanted to do was walk the borders of Boomerang Creek and drive down country roads taking in the glory of the autumn season.

The Sunday before Veteran’s Day, weather forecasts of extreme arctic temperatures, rain turning to snow, and dangers of black ice quickly brought me down to earth.  The next morning, I opened the sliding glass door to the deck so that our cat Fanny could race to the water basin for a bracing drink of cold water, only to find it was frozen solid.  Shaking her paws and twitching her whiskers, she tested the morning air, turned tail and raced back inside. There was no sitting with our coffees in the Adirondack chairs that morning.  Instead, we enjoyed our coffees across from the Buck Stove, talked about the approach of Thanksgiving, and began counting our blessings.

Earlier in the fall, we’d dealt with numerous outdoor home maintenance chores.  A row of shingles on the southwest corner of the roof caused by a mini tornadic episode one stormy night had caused some rippling that was dealt with post haste. Then, with help from our wonderful nephew Nathan, the porch decks were stained, and the studio walls power washed upstairs and down. Bouquets of zinnias and purple basil were cut regularly, and golden pears harvested.  By the end of October, it was time take care of ourselves. 

Kit has always been a great walker.  The geographer in him loves nothing better than to explore urban streets and alleys, or to stride around our meadow pathway when we do our morning dawn laps.  But for the past year, walking has become a new challenge.  While in Manhattan last March, he counted the distance from one crowded street corner to the next, grimaced while climbing stairs, and stopped often to rest his aching right leg.  After consulting with a vascular surgeon and undergoing a scan of the problem area, we were informed he was suffering from 50% blockage of the artery in his right leg.

Surgery was the answer we chose.  After an angiogram procedure by Dr. Jonathan Ming Bath at University Hospital and a couple of days of taking it easy, Kit is now treadmilling or walking laps around the meadow at a pace I haven’t observed for over a year. We’ve opted not to travel this Thanksgiving, but instead to stay local and continue to let the leg repair and gain strength.  We’re optimistic that walking will once again to be a joy and no longer a source of pain for him.  I’m already imagining walking the streets of Madrid, London, Paris, Manhattan or Los Angeles with him for many years to come.  

In the final weeks of November, we have much to be thankful for.  The gardens have been put to bed.  Kit has regained spirit and mobility.  And our woodpile is stacked high, ready for whatever changes in the weather come our way.