" O autumn! O teakettle! O grace! ”
RAINBOW ROWELL, Attachments
Although I started this post yesterday morning, it's late Sunday afternoon as I finish up. The weather has turned cold, and we have seen frost and a touch of snow on the pumpkins as the weekend winds up. I know I'm a bit of an oddball, but for me as soon as the weather turns cool, that's the time I really enjoy going out for my walks. Summertime is lovely, of course, but I have come to realize that autumn being my favourite time of year in so many ways, this also includes taking walks out in it. And it's not just for the vivid colours and earthy smells, but for the cold, crisp air itself. I am elated to feel that briskness brushing against my face, giving me a reason to hunker into my jacket with hands jammed into pockets, pulling my hat a little closer to my ears. I love it!
Out for my walk in the crisp morning air, a single pair of ducks paddled on the storm pond—they seemed a little forlorn, the only water birds still around that I could see. Or maybe they thought, Look, Henry, we finally have the place to ourselves. And, as I came up our driveway, it didn't take more than a glance to see that the garden had, indeed, succumbed to Jack Frost's chilling work. The geraniums, still bright pink, stood in freeze-dried state and a frost-brittle branch snapped off when I touched one blossom.
Returning to the warmth of the house, eyeglasses all steamed, I thought to myself, what a splendid day to settle in with my words and storybooks, not to mention cups of tea and little biscuits layered in dark chocolate. Today my thoughts are languid—unhurried—much like the rambly unfolding of this simple post. A bit of this and that, musings wandering in and out.....
I'm slowly working my way through A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I tend to read two or three chapters at a time and then balance its dark times by revisiting one of Jan Karon's gentle novels in her Mitford series. I poke around in Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, trying to fill in the blank spots that still trouble me on the grammar/punctuations front. You'd think after all these years, things would finally sink in. Like so many other thoughts, they, too, meander in and out.
" Pumpkin Pie is golden brown and rich as an old gold coin.
Its smell is autumn made manifest. "
A few days ago, we invited our dear friends J & V in to celebrate V's birthday with pumpkin pie and Monk's Blend tea. No, I didn't make the pie; we popped into the local French-style Duchess Bakery for something special. I set place settings on either end of the dining table, Covid-style. In spite of the physical distance, our visit was sweet, and the pie, oh my! was delicious.
" Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense
of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer. "
ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH, Gift from the Sea
The day before temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, I went round the garden to gather a few last blossoms. It was my time to say au revoir and offer a heart-felt thank you for all the joy and delight we had been given this past summer.
"Open afresh your round of starry folds,
Ye ardent marigolds!
I gather meaningful sayings the same way I gather flowers from a garden. Soon one quote and then another creates a cluster around a certain theme that often complement each other. Three came to me recently and I find that they mingle nicely together. The one below is from Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches from the Civil War. In this slim volume, Miss Alcott describes her experiences, including the conditions that were appalling for both staff and patients. Although her volunteer nursing days were cut short when she got quite ill with typhoid pneumonia, she never regretted signing up. I think these lines from the book sum up her thoughts and certainly her outlook. I felt certain you would appreciate their sentiment just as I have done—her words certainly have given me food for thought on several aspects.
" As no two persons see the same thing with the same eyes,
my view of hospital life must be taken through my glass, and held
for what it is worth. Certainly, nothing was set down in malice, and to the
serious-minded party who objected to a tone of levity in some portions
of the Sketches, I can only say that it is a part of my religion to look well
after the cheerfulnesses of life, and let the dismals shift for themselves,
believing, with good Sir Thomas More, that it is wise to 'be merrie in God'. "
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
“ Don't wish me happiness
I don't expect to be happy all the time...
It's gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all. ”
ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH, Gift from the Sea
This quotation by Anne Morrow Lindbergh also seems appropriate advice for these times. Even though my own days are quiet, pleasant and simple, and I am reasonably happy and content, yet still, there are days when I'm so reminded that the world is under such great strain generally, how can one be blissfully happy when so many others are in pain and distress. So maybe Ms. Lindbergh's words are helpful in reminding us that we don't need to jolly ourselves to be happy all the time. But in these times we can wish for courage and strength and a sense of humour, for indeed we need them all. For me, if I can keep my humour and always look for the beauty in the midst, that goes a long way to lifting my soul when it flags and grows weary.
"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Galdalf, "and so do all who live to see such
times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide
is what to do with the time that is given us."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Oh yes, I have certainly wished for things to not have happened to me or in my time. Maybe you have as well. At least we're not alone in that feeling. That is a comfort at least. But we do have to decide what to do with the time that is given us. Dear Lord, help us to love You, to love each another, to be kind and gracious even on days when it's not easy, to speak truth in love always.... To decide to look for the cheerfulnesses of life as Louisa May Alcott did in her generation, to face our world with courage and fight to keep our humour 'in the midst' as Anne Morrow Lindbergh did in hers. Let us not be found wanting. Maybe one day someone will read about us and how we faced our challenges with courage and cheerfulness and grace.... it makes me lift my head and pull my shoulders back. Yes, we can do this.
* * *
Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.
From my heart,
Top Photo (teapot): Image by Sergey Norkov from Unsplash
Bottom Photo (candles): Image by RD LH from Pixabay
All other photos are mine