Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wait, How'd This Happen?

Back from the market on Tuesday, and I noticed there wasn't a lot in the bag. A nice big romaine lettuce, a couple of ratty (but probably still good-tasting) eggplants, two yellow tomatoes for what will undoubtedly be the last fresh-tomato pizza of the year, and a couple of melons, not particularly large, but, it developed, very nice and juicy.

In other words, this is a picture of the end of summer. The tomato lady won't be there much longer, I don't think, and she's supplemented her stock with some peppers, including some little ones that look like bell peppers, but are a kind of purply-brown and are known as chocolate peppers. It was hard finding the eggplants and the melons, and the melon guy insisted I take three for €5 (I was with a visitor, who got the other one). Whether there'll be any at all on Saturday is a good question. There were no peaches at all and the pears weren't in yet.

We had a hot summer, no doubt about that. Not the kind of weather you want to go out in. Fortunately, I had work to do, and I did it. But at the end of the afternoon, when the sun shone directly on the concrete 90º from the window I work by, the stone absorbed the heat and radiated it back out for hours after the sun went down. There would be a little sliver of the night where it got cool and then the sun would come back up.

And then one night it stopped. The wind came in, blowing hard out of the mountains. I kept getting awakened by the shutters in my bedroom being blown open, and got up and closed them again because I sleep past sunrise. I heard my neighbors across the courtyard's windows banging as the wind toyed with them, and woke up to see that the one that had already been pierced by the upstairs neighbor kid's thrown metal toy truck some time ago had cracked badly. The whole thing's going to need to be replaced.

But the day was nice. The sun was still very warm, although the wind was also there, greatly diminished, and after walking around for a while I realized that it was, overnight, too cool out there to wear sandals, as I had been doing for months. Changing into sneakers back at the house, I soon discovered that my feet had changed shape, and I got a hell of a blister. I kept reminding myself that when I wore cowboy boots, I'd always suffer a similar problem and then suddenly they'd feel great. Which didn't help right there and then, however.

And each subsequent day has been different. The monotony -- pleasant monotony, of course -- of the blue-sky-no-clouds-warm-day that is easily over half the year here had been interrupted. The battle had begun: steel grey clouds hung in the sky, either off towards the ocean or above the mountains. We had a day and a half of torrential rains this past Saturday, and I was lucky enough to get to the market before they started and to the supermarket during a pause, which made me feel smug.

Another thing, though, that I really do like is that I feel active again. The heat really can defeat your doing anything before you actually, like, do anything. Once you get out, of course, it's not so bad -- this isn't 100º-plus Austin, after all -- but wanting to do it is another matter entirely. Today, having completed my morning routine and being inbetween work (the nice euphemism actors use for not having any), I impatiently strode out of the house on the pretext of having to put the garbage out and continued walking for another 30 minutes, just stalking around the hill and looking around. Not much to see, admittedly, in terms of something new, but I covered a fair amount of ground. Come to think of it, there are a couple of places I missed that I need to hit next time that impulse takes hold. And I don't feel like so much of a slug, either.

So if the onset of fall means increased activity, I'm for it. Less appealing is the knowledge that I'll be a year older in less than a month, an age whose divisibility by four makes me reflect that I was born during a presidential election (and a thunder snowstorm, if you can believe it) with my mother stopping off at the polling place to cast her Republican vote between contractions. (I assume my father, who used to object to FDR's picture on the dimes in his pocket, did, too, since he was driving).

It also means, perhaps, progress towards my goal of leaving The Slum behind, even if I have no idea where I'll go from here. It's impossible for me to make plans, at any rate, and that's nothing new. Nope, as I say, live like the alcoholics: one day at a time. Make that pizza with the yellow tomatoes tonight, with a caesar salad using that romaine. A fulfillable goal. Tomorrow's another day. Maybe I'll have figured out what to do with those eggplants by then. But you never know.

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