October: Another fall season

The goldenrod is yellow; the corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.
– Helen Jackson

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
– Emily Dickinson

By Bill Shepherd

Both poets speak to the sentiments of the moment.

The long and hot summer days are getting shorter. Summer is winding down; the feeling of autumn is in the air. It seems such a short time ago that we were experiencing the birth of spring.

October is a welcome visitor, although her stay will be for a short time.

Autumn, prelude to fall, casts a change over the world about us. Feelings change; sights and sounds are different. The bark of a dog, even the rumbling sound of a freight train in the distance, takes on a different sound. My mama used to say it was a lonesome time of year. When I asked why, she said, “Everything is dying.” And so it is. Here in the Upstate, the leaves are beginning to show hints of fall.

Every morning my porch is littered with acorns that have fallen from the big oak where the squirrels have been at work. They can be seen busy at their work, jumping from limb to limb. They know summer is gone. Their instinct tells them to be prepared! If I am wise, I too will make some preparations.

Down in my garden, what is left of it, I spotted a small watermelon that looked as though it was hiding among the pea vines. It is doubtful that it will grow to maturity before Jack Frost arrives. What a pity!

The leaves have already fallen from the black walnut tree that stands at the edge of my garden. Their absence reveals the walnuts that have survived the dry spell. Now the question is, “Will they survive the squirrels that are beginning to store their food for the winter?”

If the deer would hold off a few more weeks, I might could gather a mess of late peas, but I see signs they are not doing that. The scarecrow I placed at the end of the row isn’t working. I even tried placing a radio in the garden and allowing it to play all night, but that didn’t work either.

My blueberries are gone, but the muscadine are ripening. One mouthful of the muscadine and I’m a boy again. Strange how a fragrance, sound or taste can send one’s mind on a sentimental journey.

I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons in the top of a spreading oak tree, eating wild muscadine. What fun that was! Harmon Baldwin’s father could step out into the narrow street that ran past his house and whistle. Immediately, boys would spill out of their houses and follow him to the woods.

We felt safe in his company and knew we were in for a beautiful outing among nature. In the spring, we would search for wild plums, but in the fall our minds were on the wild grapes hiding in the tops of the tall trees.

The first ripe mountain apples are appearing at roadside stands and will soon be joined by yellow pumpkins and stalks of blue ribbon sugarcane. I’d better not start down that lane of memories.

The Darlington Sweet Potato Festival is another reminder of the beginning of fall. My mouth waters when I read about all the goodies available at that festival.

Yes, summer has slipped away and fall is here. Changes can be seen all about us.

Enjoy it. Make that last trip to the beach, plan a weekend in the mountains and view the handiwork of God among nature. It won’t last long, just as summer has given way to fall, so will fall give way to winter. The cold and biting winds will be blowing sooner than you realize.

Author: Rachel Howell

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