Now singing colors chord their trumpet
And maples make bright music up the hill,
The brook runs amber over polished stones,
The pond is deeper than the sky, and still.
Come the late wagons rumbling down the lane,
Freighted with pumpkins, cabbages, and corn,
Wheeling the dust into a golden rain.
Leaving behind the ravished fields forlorn.
Sweet summer is again
and lyric April a lost fairy story,
This is the season of the singing tree,
The winding horn of Autumn's ambient glory.
Only my love for you
with Autumn glows
Yet keeps the pattern of the budding rose.
The special gift of frosty days comes now; time
to lay down the household tasks and shut the door on routine. for every October, when I
see the trees over the meadow, I think, "I shall not look upon her like again."
And every October is different, strange with new beauty.
With old gunny sacks over our
shoulders, we climb the pasture slopes. Here the outcropping ledges are warm and grey but
have delicate colors laid over the stone, pastel of lichens, rosy - tipped, soft olive,
copper - tinged. The pasture itself is still green, a muted green, and all the goldenrod
and chicory and wild asters spill more glory over the stone fence. As if this were not
breath - taking enough, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills" and see the
sugar maples and oaks and butternuts. There should be new words every October for the
colors gold and scarlet and bronze and russet. there they are, living fire, and a re -
establishment of God's good will to earth.
We go up the farther lot, where the
butternuts have their tawny leaves lifted against the soft sky. The nuts are cinnamon or
black - suede color, and the long ovals hang in delightful clumps together. One kind of
rain that I like is a rain of butternuts plopping on my bent head.
We fill the gunny sacks
and then wander on to the hickory trees. The green - -lacquer covers of the nuts split
open easily, and inside the pale polished nuts are hidden. A hickory nut is beautifully
made, with it's delicate ridges and tiny point to finish it off. It feels smooth to the
hand and has a faint pleasant smell. I love to roll a handful in my fingers as I gather
It is still and
peaceful up here, and the air has a dreaming quality. When we have wandered as far as we
need, for the gunny sacks do get heavy very soon. we move to the biggest ledge of all,
where there is a nice flat place to spread a picnic supper
The menu is an old one,
for this nut gathering has all the aura of tradition with us. New - laid eggs, fried crisp
at the edges and just firm in the golden centers. Slices of dark bread to lift them on. We
have big ripe tomatoes laid on grape leaves, to eat in the hand with salt and pepper.
And this is all, for we
can't carry much when the nut sacks are full. Usually we find windfall sweet apples near
where we eat, and make desert of them.
When we bring our nuts
home we spread them to dry on clean papers in the storehouse. They should dry well and
have the outer husks removed before being hung in bags from the rafters.
Another crop is ready for
gathering too - firewood. We take a wooding expedition and bring in old dry fallen
branches and broken limbs, chop them up and stack them for those open fires. We always
mean to get enough for all winter, but we never do. Because there is the vegetable garden
needing last aid, and perennial border to clean up for fall, and the kennel to scrub and
paint. Every day is bursting with things to do.
The Book of Stillmeadow
The wild geese went over early
one morning this week. Why this is so moving, I do not know. All of us feel it: in the
village store someone says, "I heard the geese go over," and there is a moment
of silence. We seldom make much of the swallows or other migratory birds when they leave,
although we are very likely to note the redwings when they come back in March. but the
geese - ah, that is to feel a quickening of the heart.
High and lovely, they wedge
through the sky, their faint cries drifting down to earth, and for a brief time we seem to
fly too. How do they chart their course? How many miles do they travel? How many of them
fail to make it? How do they know when they've reached their destination? and how high do
they fly? Perhaps higher than other birds. . .
Days grow shorter now, the nights
chillier. Crisp mornings call for buttermilk pancakes and maple syrup, with country
sausage on the side; at supper the popovers are almost too hot to hold.
The trees kindle with color, a few at a time: small flashes of scarlet appear in the
swamp, and the sugar maples begin to glow, as the great wave of autumn glory slowly rises
to full tide. Leaves start to fall; I pick one up. It is cool to the touch; a hint of pink
lies under the gold. As it dries, the serrated edges curl inward and the leaf turns
to tawny brown. I think, I am holding autumn in my hand.
As the trees give up their
summer finery, the world around me comes into view once more. I can see the postman
stopping at the mailboxes along the road, the lights at suppertime glowing in the kitchen
windows. It is pleasant to have my horizon widened again! I always know Willie
and Wilma are just around the bend on Jeremy Swamp Road, but it's nice to see
neighbor's rooftops and chimneys and windows.
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