Posted tagged ‘autumn’

“Suddenly, the wind got hold of the hammock. Leaves murmured. It was cold and the sun had gone down.”

September 1, 2017

September has arrived far too quickly. The summer sped so fast I swear my body, especially my face, was contorted by the G-force acceleration. Today is even autumnal weather with temperatures in the high 60’s. Tonight will be even colder, the high 40’s, sweatshirt by day and warm blanket weather by night. The day is really pretty with a clear blue sky and lots of sun. The breeze is brisk so the trees and leaves are swaying. I filled the bird feeders yesterday, but I noticed they are only half full already. I have more seed in the trunk so I’ll fill the feeders again later.

My mother had a small flower garden on the side of her house beneath some kitchen windows. She had bird feeders among the flowers including a statue of St. Francis with his arm extended and his palm up so it could seed. She put a wire fence across the entrance of that garden to keep my dog Maggie away, but it seldom worked. She always found a way inside. I swear Maggie did it just to drive my mother crazy. I used to have to retrieve her and reset the fence. A while later, though, Maggie was back in the garden, and I was retrieving her again. It was a game she always played but only when the flowers were in bloom.

I always call this coming season fall rather than autumn. If I lived on a farm, I guess I’d call it the harvest season. When I was a kid, I figured it was called fall because of all the leaves falling off the trees. The sidewalks and the gutters were always covered or filled with leaves. I’d walk in the gutters on my way to school and kick the leaves all over. They’d mostly land in the street strewn about like a trail you could follow all the way from my house to school.

Fall eases us into winter. It’s a shoulder season. We have warm days then cold days hinting of winter. I open my windows during the day and close then at night. The house holds the night cold in the mornings now. The backyard is shadowed so it is chilly when I first take Gracie out. I beg her to hurry so we both can go back inside, me for coffee and warmth and her for breakfast. Today she didn’t linger.

“Never complete. Never whole. White skin and an African soul.”

November 4, 2016

If I pulled out that dusty old dictionary of mine and looked up autumn, I’d find it is a noun defined as,”the third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves fall, in the northern hemisphere from September to November and in the southern hemisphere from March to May.” The words in the definition just aren’t enough. What about autumn’s almost indefinable beauty? What about autumn’s colors, its cool, sometimes cold nights, and its warmer mornings? What about a perfect autumn day? Well, I’ve got that one covered: today is the perfect autumn day. The sun is bright. The sky is deep blue but has a few wispy clouds for contrast. The air is warm, long sleeve shirt warm. A slight breeze is enough to drop the brown leaves off the boughs of the oak trees. They slowly flutter to the ground as if they know their time is done. Today is a day to be out and about.

I met two former students the other day. We did the pleasantries and caught up with one another. I met one’s baby and another’s nine year old. They asked what I was doing to stay busy. I described my life as a sloth and I mentioned traveling. They wanted to know where. “Africa,” I told them. “Wow,” was the response from each of them and both mentioned how exciting Africa must have been. I told them about the elephants. Seeing those elephants was nothing short of amazing for me, and they thought seeing elephants had to be the coolest thing.

Those conversations got me thinking. Elephants and game parks aside, going back to Ghana is almost commonplace for me. Were I to go to Mali or Botswana, I would think of each as an unbelievable trip to Africa. Ghana is going home. It is familiar again. I get to see my former students, and we are at ease with each other, the sort of ease which comes from years of friendship. I am not surprised by what I see. The rooster wakes me up, but I can always go back to sleep. I enjoy goat and Guinea fowl as much as beef or chicken. I know Ghanaian food is spicy hot and best eaten with my hand. I am adept at noticing and walking over deposits left by goats and sheep on the streets, the walkways and in the market. All the smells are Ghana to me. Ghanaians smile at me, and I smile back. I even greet them in Hausa and a bit of FraFra.

Though Bolgatanga is bigger and far busier, I just think of it as home. It being in Africa is merely serendipitous.

“I left the fairy tales lying on the floor of the nursery, and I have not found any books so sensible since.”

November 8, 2015

Autumn has returned. The air is chilly. It is 54˚, a seasonal temperature. Last night the wind blew and howled. This morning more branches are bare, their leaves covering the ground and deck. The house was cold when I woke up so I had to turn the heat back on. Gracie and I are going to the dump and Agway then we’ll watch the Patriots.

It is a quiet day both inside and out. Gracie is sleeping and breathing deeply. The keys make noise when I type. Those are the only sounds I can hear. The quiet is a Sunday thing. That’s the way it has always been. I know the stores are all opened, but my neighborhood has no shouts from kids playing in the street and no dogs barking one after the other. Noises like leaf blowers, instead of rakes, and lawn mowers are Saturday things. They were when I was young and still are today. The rest of the days of the week haven’t as much personality as the weekend.

When I was young, I loved nursery rhymes. The way the words fit together and the rhythm appealed to my ears. I always said them sing-songy. We used to tease my brother by calling him Georgie Porgie then we’d run before he could catch us. I used to wonder about the ten o’clock scholar, “A diller, a dollar,  A ten o’clock scholar, What makes you come so soon? You used
to come at ten o’clock, And now you come at noon.” How could he be earlier if he came later? I looked this up one time and found out the word ‘diller’ is a Yorkshire term for a boy who is dim-witted and stupid. The ten and twelve o’clock lines are the other students making fun of him. It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

I don’t know if I have a favorite nursery rhyme as I liked so many of them. I always felt bad for Old Mother Hubbard’s dog, Humpty Dumpty and poor Jack of Jack and Jill fame. I used to wish on the first star, Star Light Star bright, The first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight. Actually I often still do. I don’t think many wishes ever came true , but I thought I’d keep giving it a try in case. I liked the days of the week one because I was a Sunday child: But the child that is born on the Sabbath day Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay. Maybe my favorite one is Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat; If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do, If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

I accepted this rhyme without too many questions. It was the Christmas is coming which I loved the very thought of. Bob Cratchit and his family ate goose so that was okay with me. I got the penny part and my mother told me a ha’penny was a half penny. I wondered if you had to cut the penny in half. It took a while before I got the answer to that one.

“Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him.”

October 29, 2015

Some days just don’t have a chance. Today is already one of them. I woke up with my back hurting, something which hasn’t happened in a while. I know why. Yesterday I was an idiot. I changed the litter boxes and hauled the heavy, used litter downstairs then to the car. I brought laundry up two flights. I went shopping and brought in several bags including new litter which I then hauled upstairs. I gave my back no thought. This morning I was reminded.

Now for today’s fiascos: I was putting on my sweatshirt and my arm knocked over the bag of dog treats. I picked up the treats and swept the small pieces. I decided to take a few Aleve’s for my back. I dropped the bottle on the floor and had to stoop to pick up the pills which were strewn across the bathroom floor. I went to change the water in the dog dish and found one of the cats had thrown up in it. At least her aim was good. I got my coffee and was walking down the hall juggling the cup with the mail and the newspapers. Yup, I spilled the coffee but not all of it, a good omen I figured. I cleaned it up and was finally able to sit and read the papers. There was no good news.

It rained all night. The fallen leaves are plastered to the deck, the walkway and the driveway. From the right viewpoint, they look like a painting of reds and yellows scattered here and there on the canvas. It is warm and the sun has just appeared. I am becoming optimistic, even rosy, about the prospects of the rest of the day.

I had plans for today, but they are now scrapped. The dump will be there tomorrow. Low lights will hide the dust on the bookcases and the shelves. I’m thinking I need a sloth day, maybe even a ride to nowhere.

The last three days have been filled with chores and errands, with me making up for lost time from being sick. I’m done with that. I’m going to brush my teeth which is about as strenuous an activity as I’ll have today.

“The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter woods.”

September 17, 2013

An early morning meeting (9 for me) has slowed down the day. I didn’t get to the papers until I got back home, and my morning doesn’t officially start until the papers are read and my two cups of coffee are consumed. I am now ready to start the day.

I’m wearing a sweatshirt so that should be all you need to know about the weather.

As much as I wanted an empty dance card this week, it seems to be filling. I have a meeting tomorrow and I need to shop on Thursday for the fixings to celebrate my friend’s birthday on Friday. That means making my chili after I shop so it has a whole day to settle. On Friday I have to make my chocolate pudding pie for dessert. Those choices are my friend’s for her special birthday dinner. I think Saturday is still an open day, but the way things are going, it will probably change.

Soon will be the start of the hibernation season for me and the bears. Nothing much seems to happen in winter. A few playhouses stay open, but I usually don’t buy a ticket unless the play is spectacular. In a short time, the house will get that closed in feeling, a stuffiness from the heat and the lack of fresh air. I’ll only go out on the deck to fill the bird feeders and out front to get the papers and the mail. All summer I would stop for a bit to admire the front garden and take in the morning. In winter, it’s a rush to get back inside the warm house.

I chose to live in New England even though I am not a fan of winter. I always think of the other seasons as rewards for living through the cold. My favorite season is just beginning. Autumn on the Cape is beautiful with clear crisp air, the red leaves of the oak trees, colorful mums at the garden stands, the harvesting of cranberries from the bogs and fall flowers still brightening the gardens. It’s still a long way until winter.

Autumn in New York: Lena Horne

November 20, 2011

“I saw old autumn in the misty morn Stand shadowless like silence, listening To silence.”

September 23, 2011

The day is cloudy, damp and noisy. I can hear birds making a racket all over the neighborhood. I’m thinking crows.

Last night I turned on the air-conditioner in my bedroom. The rest of the house was cool enough, but my room was stuffy. This morning I was greeted by the sight of a dead mouse on the downstairs bathroom floor. One of the cats, Maddie I’m guessing, had a busy night.

Today the stars and planets lined up and ushered in the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall, at 5:05 this morning. I know when I was a kid the seasons changed at different times than they do now. Fall began the day we were forced out of bed at a prescribed time, made to eat cereal, dressed in our uniforms and sent off to school with lunches and school bags in hand. That was the end of the glorious days of summer when every day was ours to do with as we wished.

The beginning of winter is a bit hazy. I figure it was when my mother forced us to wear heavy winter coats, mittens and those hats we took off as soon as we were out of sight of the house. With winter came dark afternoons and mornings. I swear my mother used to put us to bed earlier in the winter telling us it was late. Look how dark it is. That ploy stopped working when we learned to tell time. I didn’t like winter afternoons. They meant going inside early when the streetlights turned on triggered by the winter darkness. We spend most of our week days inside, either at school or in the house. Winter was the confining season.

Spring began when we could shed our winter coats, saw buds starting to appear on the trees and afternoons lasted longer. It became official when my mother would start to let me ride my bike to school. I was never really all that impressed by the flowers poking their heads out of the ground or the leaves appearing on the trees. I was just happy to have afternoons when I could play outside before dinner. There was a sense of freedom missing in the winter.

Summer was easy. It was the day school ended.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year here on the cape. Red is the predominant color, all sorts of reds on the maples, in the bogs and on vibrant bushes along the roadside. Here and there are trees bursting with yellow, and I love them for their contrast. I call this my let’s take a ride season when the roads are clear and Gracie and I hit the trail. We sometimes take all rights and other times all lefts. Today I have errands, but then we’re celebrating the new season by taking a ride.

“Four seasons fill the measure of the year; there are four seasons in the minds of men.”

September 26, 2010

Yesterday was summer. Today is fall and much cooler than it’s been. It’s a long sleeve sort of day. On my way to breakfast this morning, I noticed some of the leaves have turned. I saw reds and yellows. I also saw pumpkins and corn stalks decorating a few houses and yards. Autumn colors are my favorites.

When I was a little kid, I explored my world and watched the seasons change. I noticed everything. In the spring, the field was lush and green. Tadpoles swam in the swamp and were easily captured in a jar. The blueberry bushes were filled with blossoms. The air smelled clean and new. In summer, the tall grass turned brown. The days and nights got noisy. Insects buzzed and whirred, and katydids calling from the grass were easily caught in our hands. The swamp had darning needles skimming across the water. They’d stop and hover for a bit then flit to another spot. They’re wings were transparent in the sun. In fall, the trees were bursting with color. The morning air was chilly when we walked to school. The sun set early. Saturdays were when fathers all over the neighborhood raked and burned leaves. It was pumpkin time. Then came drab winter. Christmas was winter’s only spot of color, and it was no wonder we all took rides to see the lights. The next part of winter was the snow. The first flakes of the season were cause for trumpets and bugles and heralds proclaiming snow was finally falling. I loved the mornings after a snowstorm when the tops of the snowdrifts glittered in the sun like they were covered in tiny diamonds. The it was spring again.

When I got older, my days were filled with friends and school, and I barely took notice of the  seasons. A change in wardrobe was my only response. My eyes would catch a glimpse of the reds and yellows, but I had stopped being amazed. I just didn’t have the time to notice.

Now, I notice everything. I have plenty of time to stop and look and be amazed. It’s fun to be part of the change in seasons again. It makes me feel a bit like a kid again.

“September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret.”

September 4, 2010

Earl was a blustery tropical storm bringing a deluge of rain by the time it hit Cape Cod. The wind blew but not even the bird feeders were tossed from the trees. I stood for a while at the front door and watched the storm. The rain fell in sheets, and I could feel the spray from drops pounding the front steps. Gracie chose to forego her last outside visit. She got to the door, poked her head out and backtracked into the house. I am glad there was no damage, and everyone is safe, but I do admit I was looking forward just a bit to all that wind.

Today is a delight. The sun is shining, and a cool breeze has replaced the humidity of the last few days. The tourists who hunkered down will have plenty of beach time today and tomorrow. It’s their reward for staying. On Monday, the line to cross the bridge will stretch for miles.

School starts here on Tuesday. It is the seventh school year without me, and I couldn’t be more delighted. The best Cape weather is during September and October, and I never miss it anymore. The changing seasons happen before my eyes, and I get a front row seat. I used to watch through the windows.

I never thought the Cape had fall foliage until I came home from Ghana. It was then I noticed for the first time the colors unfolding and how uniquely beautiful they are on Cape Cod. The deep blue autumn sky and the crested waves of the ocean seem to frame all the colors. The marshes are filled with tall tan grasses and the same color grasses mix with green ones to border the dunes. The maple trees are usually the first to change color. Their leaves turn red. The oak tree leaves turn yellow, and they are everywhere. The cranberry bogs become a deeper and deeper red as they fill with berries. Along the dirt roads near the shore, the last of the ripe beach plums turn purple. Poison ivy is a brilliant red.

Fall on Cape Cod is my favorite season, and I am impatiently waiting.

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