From Christina: I loved reading Rose’s post about autumn in the midwest. Yep, she’s got it right, and for the record, we’ve already turned our furnace on once…just checking, you know. Enjoy Rose’s reflections!
A Gift to the Senses
by Rose Anderson
It’s chilly today, and I love it. We play a game in my house called Can You Stand It? The idea is to see how long you can go before you turn the furnace on for the winter. Most years I can get to a week past Thanksgiving unless the beaks of my cockatiels have icicles hanging from them. No need to stress my little buddies. There are other ways to keep warm – pots of soup, baking anything from meatloaf to pie, or filling the house with warm friends.
My hair has taken on its autumn pelage and gone darker. Just the other day I heard the first of many, “Hey, your hair is darker all of a sudden”. And come spring, it’ll be, “Hey, did you dye your hair? It’s lighter.” Nope. The changing color of my hair is as predictable as the seasons. People have mentioned this every year for my entire life. I don’t know if this phenomenon is particular to me or a natural redhead thing. Maybe it’s a trick of light from the angle of the sun, or just a peculiar trait for a peculiar person.
Or… maybe changing color is just my way of enjoying autumn. This is my favorite time of year, after all.
I love the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the frosty crispness in the air. I especially love the color everywhere. With the right conditions of cold nights and sunny days, the trees in my neck of the woods don their autumn finery. The other morning, it was cold enough to see my breath when I was out walking the dogs. I knew the colors would pop within days. And they did, not all, just the first in the autumn palette.
Soon I’ll have butter yellow cherry and hickory trees in my yard. Today the ashes and hazel bushes look like they’ve been set ablaze. Even the oaks are turning. Mostly the bur oaks turn brown, but another round of frosty nights might turn their leaves a dark reddish-purple. I just love that. I’ve only seen it a handful of times in all the years we’ve lived here, but when that occurs, oh my.
The real feast for the eyes dot the streets in the nearby small town neighborhoods. The sugar maples are just starting to turn those vibrant reds, blinding yellows, and glowing oranges. Some years, these trees are so amazing, they’ll take your breath away.
Even if the colors aren’t at their best, there are other things that make me smile. I love the V’s of geese flying overhead. Sometimes they fly so low you can hear that Styrofoam-like sound of their wings moving the wind.
And then there’s the smell of burning leaves wafting my way from the small towns around me. Inexplicably driven to rake the moment the leaves fall, the residents pile and burn them. For me, this ritual sends spectral memories puffing into the air. As a kid growing up in Chicago, these smoldering piles were such fun. We’d jump into the billowing clouds and some of my friends pretended to be angels or ghosts. As a fan of old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, I’d pretend I was on the moors with the hound. Yes, I was an odd child with an active imagination.
These distinctions from season to season are a gift to the senses and I love them all in their turn. There are things I can count on when the seasons change. In the late spring and early summer when first the lilacs, and then the peonies, irises, and roses bloom, I can count on fierce storms and torrential rains to beat them to smithereens the instant they’re at their loveliest. In autumn, the very week all the trees deck out in fabulous color, a wind storm will strip the branches bare. In the winter when the snow comes deep and still, I can count on my dogs to abandon their favorite business spot in the yard and crisscross the blanket of snowy beauty with tracks that leave it looking like Grand Central Station.
The fleetingness of it all makes you appreciate these things more, I think. It’s like a sweet spring-only Vidalia onion, summer bing cherries, or a Christmas tangerine. No, I take that back. This small window to appreciate the seasons’ beauty is more like a Marshmallow Peep or a Taffy Apple. Get ‘em while they’re here for they will soon be gone.
Rose Anderson is multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and learning interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper mid-west.
Her books are available at Amazon. You can also follow Rose at her blog, Calliope’s Writing Tablet. You’ll find her in many places across the web. Wave when you see her!