Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Tree of Fall

I hereby pronounce this Victorville's first tree of fall ... in my neighborhood, at least.

Fall gets off to a slow start here in Southern California, maybe even more so in the High Desert. A few days ago, this little tree was aflame with red and orange leaves. Unfortunately, the wind got to it before me and my camera.

But as you can see in the next photo, the trees stretching off behind it are all still fully engulfed in green. 

It may be fall, but I guess they didn't get the memo.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Morning Glories, Kevin McCarthy and the Twilight Zone

"We love a rose because we know it will soon be gone. Who ever loved a stone?"

Kevin McCarthy delivered those lovely words, written by Charles Beaumont, from my television screen last night. We were watching the Twilight Zone episode, "Long Live Walter Jameson," in honor of McCarthy's passing earlier this week.

I thought of that line today when I walked outside to admire my morning glories. It's quite a crop, if I do say so myself. I counted 34 of them this morning.

Know what? By tonight every one of them will be gone. The flowers close up and don't re-open. On some hot days, they don't even make it 'til noon.

It's the nature of morning glories. They open as the sun falls on them (as if to trumpet the morning -- hence their name). And they don't last more than a day. They have a shelf life even shorter than a rose.

Amazingly, there might be just as many new ones tomorrow.

There's something special about this kind of transitory beauty, and the way it can replenish itself. It's both temporary and eternal at the same time.

I guess, as people, we're the same way. In most ways, we're temporary. But it's nice to know that Mr. McCarthy, who left us at 96, lived long enough to see his TV episode enjoyed and preserved for generations to follow. We heard his voice on the commentary last night, marveling at the quality of the print and saying very nice things about the actors he worked with.

It's a shame that the writer of the episode, Charles Beaumont, and the show's creator, Rod Serling, didn't live to see how long their work would survive them. Beaumont died at just 38; Serling was only 50. I hate that. But it does show that we don't always know how much of a mark we're going to leave.

The TV episode we watched last night first aired 50 years ago. Fifty years!

It's lasted a heck of a lot longer than a rose. Or a morning glory.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kitchen Table Talk

Last weekend my mom and sister came out from Texas for an all-too-brief visit. Guess where we spent most of our time for those two days?

Around the kitchen table.

Funny thing is, I didn't even do much cooking while they were here. The kitchen table isn't just about food. It's about sitting around and gabbing.

My husband didn't quite get it. He joined us from time to time, pulling up a chair and chatting sociably. But after a while he'd say, "Wouldn't you guys rather sit in the living room where it's more comfortable?"

I don't know exactly why, but the kitchen table runs deep in the female of the species. Watch at your next family gathering. Whether it's before the meal or after, the women tend to land in the kitchen, the men in the living room. You might think it's because that's where the TV is. Admittedly, the big game can be a big draw at Thanksgiving time. But I say the tradition started way before television. Read a 19th-century novel, and you're likely to see the men retire to the drawing room for brandy and cheroots, while the women ... do what? Wash dishes? Sit in a sewing circle? Faint? I don't remember.

For whatever reason, the kitchen table is the scene for female bonding.

Men don't get it. They prefer a cushy sofa to those hard-backed chairs. And maybe they are lured by the glow of television's electronic hearth -- or, in earlier days, the fireplace. Maybe it's a caveman thing.

But how does that explain us, clustered around a hard surface in those hard-backed chairs?

Maybe it's because, like it or not, the kitchen table puts us closer to the center of traditional female chores. Far from being a physical barrier, it's the perfect place to cluster around, to talk about everything and nothing. It's also a great place to rest that cup of coffee, or soda, or whatever.

I can't really explain it. It just works -- and I wouldn't trade the hours we spent there for the world.