Welcome November, along with all of your autumn splendor that October so generously has left in your care. I love traveling the country roads all around my house at this time of the year, when the trees present a kaliediscope of color in patchwork quilt precision and my imagination takes flight along with the Canadian geese flying overhead. These past few weeks have changed the landscape into a carnival of festive colors inviting me to enjoy nature's snapshots of life in the country.
It has been said that "Winter is an etching, spring is a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn is a mosaic of them all." This past week, here in Northern Virginia, proved that to be a deservedly beautiful and accurate observation. The passing of time has changed the color wheel of the Blue Ridge from smokey blues to fiery golds and oranges with tufts of mottled reds, browns and greens mixed in to calm the scene against the backdrop of dusty azure-gray skies.
It has been a time for this gardener to stop and, perhaps not smell the roses, but take note of the trees preparing to shed their summer clothes by wearing colorful costumes as their last "harrah" until next spring. Wherever I turn, I see what reminds me of a cornucopia bountifully filled with fruit and vegetables shimmering in the bright sunlight on top of a well-dressed table ready for a special family dinner.
Not to be forgotten in any way, chrysanthemums of every hue and bold pumpkins add their own special "bling" to the sights of the colorful trees and sounds of the autumnal wind.They also keep reminding me that November changes the tablescape in preparation for "old man winter" to make his presence known soon...very soon.
However, the gaiety of the fall season will continue on, giving thanks for the beauty of nature. Decorations adorn busy streets, roadside vignettes and humble doorsteps. Even though October's season of the witch is coming to an end, the cauldron of colors stirred up by frosty nighttime spells cast in old haunted houses hidden in the woods continues to linger and Halloween frivolities range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
While ironing my leaves, I found myself recalling to a favorite poem of my mother that that often appeared, at this time of year, on the cover of the Chicago Tribune's Sunday magazine. It described the beauty and mystery of fall wrapped up in the legend of Indian Summer by Henry Van Dyke. The picture on the cover of the Sunday magazine always depicted a fall scene taking place around an evening fire of freshly raked leaves with smoke billowing up into the dark sky revealing ghostly shadows of dancing Indians. She used to read it aloud to my brother, sister and me and then carefully cut out the picture and poem and save them, somewhere in a book, probably in much the same way she preserved the leaves we collected. It's a lovely nostalgic poem and it goes like this:
And half conceals from pensive eyes
The bronzing tokens of the fall;
A calmness broods upon the hills,
And summer's parting dream distills
A charm of silence over all.
The stacks of corn, in brown array,
Stand waiting in the placid day,
Like tattered wigwams on the plain;
The tribes that find a shelter there
Are phantom peoples, forms of air,
And ghosts of vanished joy and pain.
At evening when the crimson crest
Of sunset passes down the West,
I hear the whispering hosts returning;
On far off fields by elm and oak,
I see the lights, I smell the smoke,--
The Camp-fires of the Past are burning.