Oregon Winter has begun.
When the clocks are set back, I walk to school at sunrise and home at sunset. On a good day, the sky glows with fading sunlight; one a bad day, it is cold and rainy, but the air always smells of the ocean forty miles away. Someone has already hung colored Christmas Lights along the eves of the house; they balance out the pumpkins rotting on doorsteps. Seasonal transitions.
I read “Oregon Winter” to the class last week. Heads all nodded at the line “There will be months of rain.” Freshmen dream out the window during Thursday afternoon study hall, remembering warm sunshine on bare legs and long summer dusks. I know, because I am thinking of the same thing. At lunch, a junior puts down his physics homework to ask me if I have ever been to Ollallie Lake and we indulge in half an hour of trail and road talk. When an absolute downpour passed through last week, we all stopped to watch the rain blowing sideways. The Christmas Cactus is in full bloom and the Swedish Ivy is dropping spent white flower petals on unsuspecting heads. The small white lights that I strung under the plant shelf warm the space—and make it possible to read near the windows on a dark morning. The scent of someone’s poptart lingers in the air. The room feels safe and colorful, if not warm (I have the coldest classroom in the building.).
At home, the house glows against the darkness. I’ve trimmed away the front plant hedge and raked up the fig tree leaves, which opens up the front of the house. The new fence is bright in the fleeting sun; it’s color reflected in the dying asparagus ferns and the hazelnut leaves. As the leaves fall, the catkins are revealed. Chickens and rabbit dash around the backyard when we come home before their bedtime. Pumpkins and squashes are stashed all over the house; the tablecloth has fall leaves and green grapes printed on it; my mother’s orange candleholders grace the mantle. We have a fire in the evening.
The sun is leaving; we bring the light inside and snug down for the winter.
Corn Chowder—total comfort food
Chop and sauté a medium onion in butter and olive oil. A leek is also nice.
Chop and boil until almost done a couple of cups of potatoes.
Add potatoes and potato water to the onions. Add a bag of frozen corn, some salt, pepper, and thyme. Cover with milk. Some days, I add some dried milk to thicken.
Eat with muffins.