It has been a lovely week at the rabbit patch. October has been fair and mild. The mornings have been misty and chilly-enough so that I have donned light sweaters. I drive to work as the sun is rising. I declare that watching light change is a favorite practice of mine. Whether it is coming or going, I find light to be very beautiful. At nightfall, the “Harvest Moon” rose over the field and made the territory glow. I went out to watch the October moon appear, intending to lift all sorts of salutations, thoughts of gratitude . . .and requests. Instead I stood silently. Somehow I knew Heaven understood.
On the way back to the farmhouse, I smelled the first fallen autumn leaves. I have always been quite partial to this particular scent. The fragrance of fallen leaves evokes all sorts of memories, for me-some go back as far as my childhood. I remember being a few minutes late for supper one evening and mama wanted to know why. I explained that I didn’t want to come in from the “brisk wind blowing the leaves around”. Mama said that “brisk” was a fancy word, as she continued putting supper on the table. Even as a young adolescent, I was apt to take long solitary walks to the back of the fields and then through the woods, once it was autumn time. When my own children were young, I remember smelling the scent of autumn leaves in their hair. I have journals, I wrote for each of them that was started on the day they were born- a collection of letters I wrote to them, really. There are pressed leaves in some of the pages, now decades old. These are some of my most tender memories. . .and I recall them every year, in October.
It has been just short of a week, since I attended the “early service”, otherwise, known as daybreak. This morning a light breeze was blowing and birds were singing-as if it were April. Thick clouds muted the light and reduced the view of the sun to a faint golden patch, over the oldest barn. Morning broke quietly on this day. Cash, my boxer, still bounded around the yard, as is his habit. Christopher Robin, a young gray cat, surveyed the property with caution. I am quite sure he noticed, that the grass needs mowing. . .and he is right.
I came in and started a large pot of chicken cooking. I will add pastry tomorrow morning, for it is “homecoming” at the church I grew up in. My mother did too, and so did her mother. My parents remain faithful and attend most every Sunday. “Homecoming” is always in October. Now the church has a huge facility for such occasions. No one will worry about rain . . or ants. This was not the case for many years.
Homecoming used to be held under a canopy of old oaks on the front lawn of the church. The Saturday before, men would show up and string large rolls of wire from one tree to the next, creating a very long table. On Sunday, the women spread tablecloths which would be held in place by large bowls of potato salad and platters of fried chicken, barbecue and deviled eggs. There were all sorts of cakes and pies. People cooked for days and carried their best wares. The grounds were mowed and trimmed in the days before. After the service on Sunday, folks put chairs and blankets out under the trees and we ate , right there under the oaks. Women traded recipes. I just fixed a cake this week, from a recipe given to me over twenty five years ago. Young couples walked through the crowd showing off new babies. Children kicked off their “Sunday shoes” after the meal, and played football. If a child could walk, they played. Toddlers and teenagers together. By mid afternoon, little shoes and hair ribbons, scattered about the lawn were collected and dishes were packed up in baskets for the ride home. The next day, was spent getting grass stains out of trousers and socks.
Tomorrow will be a much more civilized event. There will not be a single leaf in a bowl of chicken salad, nor adorning a twelve layer cake. Not one biscuit will be lost to ants and children will not soil their clothes with dirt and grass stains. We will be seated at tables instead of the shade of old trees . . .and if it rains, oh well! Still, I miss the former ways of homecoming. I feel like we lost something beautiful. . but I am sentimental in heart and old fashion, by nature.
My former “Sunday School” students are now mothers and fathers and I will see them tomorrow. I will see my twin cousins, Martha and Marsha. Marsha married into the family and since they are inseparable, we gained Martha too. I will see some dear friends from my youth-and their grandchildren. My sister, Delores is coming too and so is my niece, Dana. Mama and Daddy will be there-I am sure Mama is cooking, as I write this.
I will remember people like Miss Tillie. Miss Nellie, Miss Catherine and Miss Jo-my own Sunday School teachers. I will remember Miss Dallas, who was famous for her macaroni and cheese and Mr. Styons, the pastor there, for many years. There are many others and every bit as precious, that were part of that very beautiful time, when I was growing up.
October makes me remember and I do not pretend to know why this is so, but it seems, in October, I go through my collection of memories . I “never come up short”, but instead, I feel inspired to love this world, the way I have been loved. Truly “my cup has always run over” -and it still does.
Dear Diary, I am glad for the love that I have known since I was born, for it has made the difference. I am glad for woodland and field -and the light that shines on both. I am glad for October . . . the time . . .when I remember.