By most accounts, the last Sunday in October, passed in an ordinary fashion. The sun came up and brought its’ shine . The laughing Pasquatank River , like a mirror reflected the glory the sky yielded. Lately, the river has looked like glass every day Will, saw the whole thing and it made me sorry I had missed it. It also made me glad he did not. It said something about him that words will not do justice to explain.
Lyla woke up, and not long after waking, said “Honeybee”. Now, that was “golden”. I have been “Bee” just a short while and now “hu -bee” this Sunday morning!
Late in the morning, Lyla and I took our walk. It was an especially warm day. We met a neighbor , the owner of one of the tiny cottages, that I adore. She was as gracious in spirit, as her home is in charm. I could tell that I liked her right off. She even extended an invitation for a visit-and I look forward to that.
A few blocks over, two small sisters were literally dancing around, as children are apt to when they feel joyful. “Tomorrow is Halloween!” rang out and “No school either!” You couldn’t help but be happy with that kind of celebration going on. I hope I see them tomorrow night.
In the afternoon, Will visited his mom, who lives just five minutes away. She sent me a book, that is sure to be a favorite. as the subject is Christmas. It is a collection of old fashioned recipes, old photographs and Christmas literature-even carols.
In the quiet of the evening hours, I thought about all of the moments the day had held. It is the little things that had made the difference. From Will’s account of the sunrise to Lyla’s good morning “honeybee”-from the sisters’ dance , to meeting a friendly neighbor. . . and the gift of a Christmas book, I love-I thought about how all days are made up of moments and if I but consider the contents of any ordinary one of them-It is likely I will find something to be glad about.
Once again, I left after school on Friday for Elizabeth City. Sometimes, things just work out. We do not have classes Monday or Tuesday , and it just seemed I was destined to see Lyla wear little wings and wave a wand about, on Halloween.
There was a lot to do on Saturday. Will and Jenny were having a “dinner Party” in the early evening. It would be the first one in the new dining room with the glass chandelier , that I just love. Of course this occasion warranted a thorough house cleaning and the yard tidied up. There was fancy food to prepare -and there is always, Lyla.
Will set about his tasks in the yard. Lyla was quite interested in this affair. It involved dirt and digging. Children are always drawn to such things. Lyla dug in some potting soil and transferred it to the bird bath with diligence. I did not hinder her great effort, but instead was amused to see her learning about careful movement. She would stop ever so often and watch her dad intently, then remembering her work would dart back to the soil she had claimed.
Jenny worked in the house, and at lunch we all discussed our progress. Jenny was concerned about the complicated recipe to be prepared and there was still more housework. Will had an agenda that involved errands and a mirror to hang. Lyla and I had our plans to stroll by the river-far away from all of that busyness . So, we went our separate ways in the afternoon.
The river that laughs, was smooth as glass on this day. Lyla and I stopped to consider that, for awhile. Later, we walked by a small grove of pine trees. I love the smell of pine warmed by sunshine. A flock of blackbirds chattered noisily in a large cypress as we passed it. You could hear them from a good ways off. What a ruckus, I thought, but it was a happy sound. I love blackbirds in spite of their lowly reputation. They are are impressive in the air- a “song and dance” act of sorts-and when blackbirds fly, winter is upon us.
We did not see one friendly cat on this walk, but we did smell the sweetest rosebush on Raleigh Street and we saw dogwoods turning all shades of red. Against the royal blue October sky, it was a pretty picture.
In the Evening
When Lyla and I returned, Jenny was ready to begin the worrisome recipe. I have cooked all of my life and feel quite at home in a kitchen, but I must admit, I was a bit wary of this new concoction of ingredients I wasn’t used to. I did not know their nature nor habits in a simmering pot. I was more nervous about Jennys’ dinner that I had ever been about any of my own.
I considered arranging a centerpiece, but Mandy who owns Pansy & Ivy, was invited and has such a gift with flower arranging that I declare her an artist in her own right, and upon that consideration, I abandoned my notions. As it turns out, she brought a sweet arrangement and it was perfect. She also brought a pie and she could probably sell pie, too, I noted, later.
Another guest, Sarah has a reputation for her cooking skills and proves that frequently -so I sure hoped that the chicken in the heavy sauce would turn out.
The table was especially pretty. Everyone said the dinner was perfect. Each family carved a pumpkin afterwards. Lyla played with the masses of seeds while the older children contemplated the fate of their own pumpkin.
All things considered, this day in Autumn with its’ blackbirds singing and fancy dinner was a time to remember- and its’ memory may well come in handy on a long night in winter when there’s a cold wind blowing.
The October climate deserves a crown. For the last few weeks, any given day could have been a post card-with bragging rights. I watch the dawning of the day, on my drive to work. Light changes with hues of orange, lavender and pink and all shades in-between. Finally a golden light proclaims that a new day is born. In the evening an equally impressive, sunset paints the sky, so beautifully, it will stop you in your tracks-such is the way of October.
The rabbit patch is carpeted with a soft layer of leaves now, and I don’t mind that. The huge sycamore leaves do require attention more frequently as they are quite large and tend to curl upon drying. They cause you to wade through them and so I have been in the habit of building autumn fires, where the tomatoes used to grow. The oaks do not warrant such measures til Thanksgiving. Frost has not yet fallen on the landscape, so the leaves on the ground do not yet make a flamboyant statement.
While the fired burned brightly, last night, I took notice of the night sky. The stars do not show up in the great numbers they did a few months back, but they seem much bigger. Now, the constellations are easily recognizable. There is just enough moonshine now to light the path I walk.
A wild kitten is very curious about the fire and will keep me company-as long I keep my distance. The flames and warmth, seem to put us both in a trance, of sorts. It acts as a natural tranquilizer and strands us both in silence.
Supper is late on the days I burn leaves and branches. I do not dare leave something cooking on the stove while a fire burns brightly in the kitchen garden, for small fires have a way of making one forget everything else in the world-especially time. Pine cones, which are handy for starting a fire, produce flames that are blue and green. I am convinced that even the most diligent can not bear to look away from the fire when pine cones are burning.
I can not harbor resentment in the presence of a fire brightly burning in the kitchen garden. Under a sky scattered with silver diamonds I feel small, yet not insignificant. My perspective shifts and I have a sense of well-being as the flames seem to induce a trance, of sorts. The cares of the world seem to “go up in smoke” along with the branches from the old apple tree.
Nature may be the best tranquilizer of all, for sky and water and fields and mountains . . . woodlands and even, old rocks and garden fires, all lend a sense of peace, I think. Somehow, nature survives calamities and being mistreated, without malice. Nature seems to spend its’ energy on restoration, instead of seeking revenge . . or even justice. Nature is not greedy nor wasteful. It is a worthwhile sermon, to consider and it serves me well, to consider . . .while the fire burned brightly.
Lately, when a day ends, I declare its’ beauty and feel certain it is the “fairest of all”. Then the next day unfolds, just as worthy as the one before it. The sweet, bright light of October acts as a tonic and hinders any chance of weariness. Nothing seems impossible under an October sky-in fact it is a good time for “wishful thinking”.
I managed to get in a short walk with Lyla yesterday, before I left for the rabbit patch. Friendly people were working in their yards and a lot of people were walking their dogs. The sunshine was brilliant and Lyla fell asleep before we got home. I left before she woke up. It is always bittersweet when I leave, but Will and Jenny had accomplished a lot in their house and yard-and Jenny had the kitchen smelling like supper, so all was well.
The drive home was pleasant. Traffic was light and the drivers were well-mannered. Conditions were just not favorable for discord of any sort, I thought. October can soften a heart of stone, I believe- or at least make you think twice about Heaven.
When I arrived back at the rabbit patch, the sun light was warming up the leaves that had fallen and the scent of autumn filled the air . The boys weren’t home, but my favorite boxer, Cash welcomed me like a long- lost friend. Even the wild kitten said hello, though it was with hesitation. Christopher Robin put on airs and held a grudge until supper time .
I always leave plenty of food cooked up for the boys when I go to Elizabeth City. Mama sent food too and a cake. It makes no difference to us that they are grown, we are convinced they may starve to death while I am gone. There was no sign that a cake had ever been here, so I had some left overs in the quiet farm house as the sun was setting.
I went out later to say goodnight- and to try taming the wild kitten, again. There was less moonshine than the night before . The air felt brittle and likely to splinter if I made a sound, so I sat with a wild kitten in the scarce light of a late October moon-and I just loved everybody.
Now is the time to hear the song of the wild geese in flight. Leaves are hinting in subtle ways that their glory days are not far off and the chill in the wind causes me to consider the condition of the wood stove. It is also the time when fields lay golden until evening, when they become an expanse of warm russet. In either state, a field says it is autumn.
There is something therapeutic about looking at large open spaces.. It rests the mind and can provoke us to have the deep thoughts we have been putting off. This may be the longing people answer when they are drawn to the ocean or the vistas of the mountains.
Yesterday, I left for Elizabeth City, the minute school was out. At that time, it was a warm October day. It was a lovely drive past pumpkin stands and houses with chrysanthemums on porches. There is about a mile that the drive takes me past fields that are vast. The late day sunshine fell on them and lit them up . Now and then, leaves took to the air and it felt at those times like I was driving in a parade that celebrated October.
It was still dark, when I woke up. I went out anyway armed with coffee. There was a cold wind blowing and rain had fallen in the night. There was no evidence of the squirrel community, but a cardinal showed up and did great justice to his species, as he was a very bright red.
I did not feel inclined to tarry, as the cold wind was steadily blowing. I went in to read. At some point, there was light and everybody was awake and hungry. After breakfast, Jenny and I took Lyla to a farm that had a pumpkin patch, a corn maze and several small animals. The wind had settled to a light breeze and the morning had warmed to a bright and beautiful day. Lyla came home with a small pumpkin and I had several ears of bright yellow corn to contribute to Will and Jennys’ new porch. It was a good way to spend a morning.
We ate lunch outside in the fresh October air. Afterwards, Lyla and I took a walk, as is our habit. I have learned a fair amount of new street names, though I can’t yet remember their exact location. I do know, that on Raleigh Street, there is a rose bush with a very sweet scent. A friendly little boy with a dog, named Noah, live on Woodruff, and play under a huge old magnolia tree. We walked an hour and went down many little streets, but not for love nor money, can I tell you the name of the street with the big yellow cat that lays under a dogwood.
Jenny got a lot of things in their place, and Will worked in the yard again, while Lyla and I were sauntering through the village-like community. It is a beautiful thing to watch a young family “setting up housekeeping” and even more endearing, when they are your own. More than dishes, go into a new home. Maybe the hopes and dreams of the young couple, outnumber the furnishings.
In the last light of the day, a flock of wild geese flew over the laughing river and filled the air up with the sound of autumn. . . for when fields lay golden, the first frost is no longer a fortnight away.
I am quite sure that all the world sings in October. I saw the sun rise this morning on my drive to work-and this day was born in a beautiful manner, I can assure you-and worthy of a song. It started off with the fog that has become very familiar. The sunlight was muted and it turned the gray fog a lovely shade of pink. Nature is full of surprises and one never has “seen it all” as we think, I realised. As the sun reached the tree tops, it crowned them in gold. The trees whether stately or not appeared to shine themselves. This morning, would be a hard act to follow.
October is full of wonderful and beautiful-in many forms. The climate is particularly pleasant with its’ bright days and cool nights. I find it difficult to be inside when I am convinced that every day is the grandest that has ever been. Today, I spent my break outside. It was for just a few minutes, but long enough for me to disturb a covey of small birds under the persimmon tree. The fruit is far from ripe, so I did not feel so bad about it. Just past the persimmon tree, a bluebird was foraging in a carpet of bright yellow leaves. This is why I love October, I thought.
Leaves tumbled across the road, on my drive home. The wind today was friendly and without malice, as it had been just a week ago. I pulled in to the rabbit patch and drove by the pumpkins and the yellow chrysanthemums on the porch-and I thought, this is why I love October, too.
All of the days’ inspiration showed up on the kitchen table. It just seemed like the day warranted a celebration of some sort and so we had a “Sunday dinner” on a Tuesday night. I made extra gravy for Cash, Christopher Robin and Christopher Robins’ little friend. I have been trying to “tame” the small kitten anyway, and thought surely gravy would help-and it did. I carry a little dish out each night with some sort of temptation in it. He eats greedily and allows me to sit near enough to rub him. This night was no different.
He and I sat together, though there was a good foot between us. The moon rose up and cast its’ shine like it has a million times before, but that fact did not diminish the effect it had on the rabbit patch. . . and I thought, this is why I love October.
Saturday was as beautiful a morning as the one before it. I went out expecting to find the usual circus of the squirrels in the yard-but no, the yard was as still as it could be. It made me smile to think that maybe the squirrels needed a rest-and it was well-deserved. The birds sang anyway and the sun brightened the yard in lovely increments.
After a quick breakfast, Will and Jenny went to fetch a load of things from their previous house, and Lyla and I took a stroll. I have been discovering new streets in the Riverside Village. On this day, I found a street full of very old small cottages. They were painted in lively colors and some were adorned with flowered shutters. The exterior trims were ornate and quite appealing. Flowers grew in every yard and there were wind chimes that tinkled in the slight breeze. The yards were small, but were made the most of with all sorts of things growing everywhere. I suspected the residents were lovely folks and very artistic by nature. I loved them for saving the cutest little pieces of history I have seen in a long while.
By Afternoon. . .
The afternoon was as wonderful as the morning though it still warranted a light jacket. Lyla did nap as she ought to. Will worked in the yard and Jenny put things away. Lyla and I managed an early evening walk. We walked past the time of the low slanted sun rays. I started missing my boys-all of them, all at once. This happens to me frequently when I have a nice visit with any one of them. To me, they are a unit and it feels incomplete when we aren’t all together, no matter how nicely a visit is going. It is an impossible conflict, other than a few times a year. I understand fully the logistics of the situation, but I am a mother and a mothers’ heart feels as it is inclined to do so without any regard to sensibility at times. I was having such a good time and wished the boys were with me, this autumn night.
When the sun had clearly set and with darkness at our heels, Lyla and I began the walk home. I was in a bit of a hurry and trying to keep my bearings straight. My landmarks are things like the huge magnolia , the house with the white dog or the house with the large lantana bush. Why I do not pay attention to signs is beyond me. It was almost dark and I had decided we were on the right trek, when a lady walking a cute little dog stopped for me to admire him-and I did. She asked if I had seen the moon on the river tonight and was horribly shocked when I said no. She insisted I stop immediately and head in that direction. She convinced me. It felt sinful not to take advantage of what she had described as the “the most beautiful moon that ever was”. So, taking a sharp right, we headed for the river. I smelled supper cooking in the homes and felt like I acurately named their fare several times. Lights in the windows were shining brightly and muffled voices could be heard as windows were being shut. It made me happy to see families safely gathered.
When the moon on the river came in to sight, I was not the least bit sorry I had met the lady with the little dog. Lyla and I were the only ones at the rivers’ edge and we watched the moon shining in silence. I thought of Alfred Noyes and his beautiful description of moonlight-“the road was a ribbon of moonlight”. I also thought that this moon was shining on my sons and it comforted me to think of it like that.
On the way home, I declared this Saturday to be one to remember and so I tucked the memory deep in my heart-where such things are kept.