cotton bale, pumpkin October

As days go, not bad.

Fall has awakened the cotton gin near our house, and tipped the edges of a few early-adopter leaves with gold. Each day brings a different number of bales of raw cotton piled up near the side of the road. Bales, not in the sense of man-sized or tractor-sized, but eighteen-wheeler-sized; one enormous bale per truck.

We drove off to dinner, Jeff and I, and he cocked an eyebrow toward the field of bales and wondered aloud how the owners of the cotton gin moved the bales from field to truck. In the four years we've lived here, I've never seen a bale loaded from the field onto a truck, and only in the past couple of days have I seen a bale being deposited onto the field in the first place. They simply appear during the quiet of late morning or late night, when no one is around to see their arrival.

By such things are the seasons marked.

Birthday season is over; Jeff and I have turned the digits of our respective ages and awakened feeling absolutely no different. The stores unknowingly celebrate our birthdays in pumpkin tones; I've come to accept that within two breaths of my birthday, the store colors shift from birthday orange to Christmas red, but find myself strangely cranky if they jump the gun and proffer Christmas wares before I can manage to turn a year older.

The time of leaving approaches.

The words are so calm; rendering them into text takes away the ripple of excitement that comes when I say them. In person, it's rare to find a conversation of mine that does not touch on the subject. Normally I indulge my wanderlust the week of my birthday, but events and happenstance and respect for friends' schedules has contained my wanderlust for an additional month and a half.

I'll whet my appetite on northern Atlanta, where I'll spend about a week's worth of days over two trips, first helping a friend with a major house project, and later joining up with other friends to celebrate my first non-family Thanksgiving in my life.

I will race home after Thanksgiving to pack, to pack, to dash about the house in the throes of mad list-making only to dart away once again. What could not happen in October will happen in December: time in Arizona, California, and Colorado.

One by one, my tasks find themselves sorting-hatted into befores and afters; of plans to stock up the freezer before I leave, to wait on repainting the master bath until after I return.

Most of the 'befores' are mundane, existentialist almost. Finish the costume for the All Saints' Day party I'll be attending this year (the costume: a modified Italian Renaissance dress, with more skirts than this jeans-wearing geek chick knows what to do with). Work on some quarto code changes for Chris. Keep time in the laundry dance. Remember to make dinner every now and then. Answer the phone when it rings. Feed the cats.

...and while I'm driving, not start daydreaming about the delightful minutiae that is a packing list for a three-week trip until after I'm past the cotton gin. Wouldn't want to have my eyes stuffed full of daydreams on the off chance I might actually find out how those bales get offloaded into trucks.


Mundanely, having lived and gone to school next cotton fields for much of my life, I believe it is something like a forklift. Curiously, even in midday, midafternoon, or late at night, I never recall seeing anyone man the machines that sat idle in the fields -- the machines were just there, like huge clunky statuary. And you are affecting my writing. Imitation is sincere flattery?

Having lived in the Delta for a summer, you're really not missing much. I've seen cotton baled, catfish harvested, soybeans harvested ... all in the middle of the night. It's the dangedest thing, but I'd probably work at night, too, if I wanted to stay cool. :)