Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tornadoes and Asian Pears

All this long summer, despite relentless heat in the 90s and higher, I stuck with bicycle commuting – surprising myself at the temperatures I was able to tolerate, if not enjoy. But when September rolled around, and the heat showed no signs of abating, I began to grow more than weary of it. The humidity weighed on me, turning my limbs to lead and my spirits felt squashed.

On Saturday, after two days of no exercise (prepping for and having a colonoscopy – yay – healthy colon) I felt compelled to make up for my lassitude on Saturday – starting with Pilates, going for my last swim of the season (a mile in the pool) and then biking down to Shirlington to see a show. Part-way through the second act, the power went out and we were informed that a tornado was passing near by. A few minutes later, they told us that the eye of the storm was right above us. I couldn’t feel a thing inside the sturdy theater, but a constellation of cell phones lit up the space, and all around people were checking the weather postings – informing us that a torrential downpour was in progress.

I was starting to worry about how I’d get home on my bike. But shortly, the power was restored, the show went on, and the rain had largely stopped by the time I exited the theater. Its aftermath brought the relief of cool air – something I’d been fantasizing about for months. And even though the rain picked back up, it was just a moderate sprinkle and I was delighted to find weather cold enough to make my ears hurt, just a bit – reminding me that yes, one day again, I will be wearing headbands and ear warmers, long sleeves and leggings.

Water from Four Mile Run Covering the Bike Path

 My route home offers parallel paths – the Four Mile Run path along the stream – usually my preferred route for its shadier and more scenic amenities, and the flatter, faster W&OD. Wisely, I chose the W&OD, as the gushing brown waters of Four Mile Run had overrun the path in many places. Amazingly, someone had already removed piles of branches from the W&OD path and stacked them along the edge.

Piles of Fallen Branches Stacked Along the Path

When I got home, I found that the storm had littered the ground with Asian pears from my huge, ancient tree – whose branches are too high for me to harvest. Usually, the pears that fall to the ground are assaulted by the squirrels – who take one bite out of each pear, apparently forgetting with each new fruit that, in fact, they don’t care for them. I filled a box with my windfall, and brought them inside, lovingly cleaning and drying them and trying to figure out how I would give away the hundred or so more than I’d ever be able to consume.

One Day's Bounty of Asian Pears, Picked for me by the Storm

 Sunday morning dawned crisp and cool, and I filled a pannier with Asian pears, taking them to the yoga studio and exhorting my students to, please, take some. Even though the temperatures are projected to rise again later in the week, I am savoring the pleasant breeze through the open windows, and the incessant chirping of a lovelorn cricket in my basement – signs of the autumn that is sure to come, soon.

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