Late Fall Reflections

Sliced Tomato, Salt, Pepper and Feta Cheese

Sliced Tomato, Salt, Pepper and Feta Cheese

Leaves are beginning to fall from the Green Ash trees. Those on the two early apple trees have been down more than a week. The garden is producing and likely will until the hard frost comes in mid-October.

This time, more than any in the year, is for work at home.

Today’s to-do list includes harvesting tomatoes and peppers, canning, and cooking gumbo. I prepared a lunch of sliced tomato, salt, pepper and feta cheese using blemished fruit. It’s a simple and satisfying repast.

For so many years, work was elsewhere. While downsizing I found a three-ring binder with papers from expense reports dated 1992. I was managing trucking terminals in Schererville and Richmond, Indiana, and starting recruiting operations in West Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Missouri. I would wake up on an airplane unsure of where I was, or where I was going. It was a busy time and there was little left for family. They were days of intangible hope for a future that included success. I don’t know what that means any more.

President Obama stopped at the Iowa State Library in Des Moines yesterday. The stop wasn’t on his formal agenda, but while there he submitted to an interview by Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer prize-winning author who lives in Johnson County. Obama reads Robinson and listed Gilead as one of his favorite books. It is pretty neat that one of our own has this kind of relationship with the president. Obama quoted from the book in his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney in Charleston last July.

I’ve been trying to read Gilead without success. Starting it three times over the last three weeks, I don’t get it. Maybe eventually I will. It’s one of the must read books produced by an author affiliated with the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where many less acclaimed books than Robinson’s have been produced. Maybe the time is not right. Maybe the president’s visit will encourage me to give it another try.

It’s two months to the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP 21, in a suburb of Paris. Iowa environmental groups are wrangling for a unifying Iowa event just prior to the first day of the conference, Nov. 30. It seems a bit late to be planning as leaves fall, the harvest comes in, and we turn our attention to the work necessary to sustain ourselves. It’s important the parties reach an enforceable agreement. It won’t be the end of the world if they don’t. Or maybe it will.

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