The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Falling Fast October 7, 2014

The scenery starts to change in subtle ways at first, a slightly pinkish hue to a leaf here and there, an olive cast to a tree, maybe a highlight or two of yellow in a sea of green… In the beginning, especially when the weather isn’t always cool, and sometimes can be even a mite too warm – it seems a bit of a stretch to think that in relatively short order all the leaves will no longer be above our heads, but under our feet. It’s a rather massive transformation, and once it’s underway, it can be a little surprising to see how quickly the trees become November-bare.

This is the month when my parents chose to be married (on October 10th, in 1959), so that they might take advantage of autumn at its most colorful peak. Happily we’ve had a wonderful fall thus far in 2014, but I’m wondering if the leaves aren’t leaping to the ground more rapidly than in falls past on account of the lovely sunny, warm weather we’ve been having lately (save yesterday, when it rained; a personal gift from Nature to me, I’m fairly sure of it, as I was sick and needed a day to stay inside and sleep, guilt-free). Or does it work the other way ’round? Does a nippy fall encourage the leaves to leave? I dunno, it just seems to be happening quicker this year. Maybe everything just feels faster to me. Perhaps my age is having a greater effect than before on my experience of time. I’m reaching the autumn of my own life now, and I got here a lot sooner than I thought I would.

No matter, can’t be sad, nostalgic or backward-looking for long. I need to be fully present for this gorgeous time of year. I need to fully savor the scents, linger over the ambers and golds and bright blue skies. It’s a heady, sensual time – very much like spring in many ways, I think. One can smell the earth again in a renewed way, one can just sense the moisture clinging to the rocks and trees, and in spite of the sun’s warmth, there’s a sobering, cool edge to it all which has you digging out your light jackets and sweaters again. For me, this time of year is the most dream-like of all the seasons. The countryside has a mystical feel to it. Scents hang heavily in the air; wet, moldering leaves, browning roadside thickets and still-thriving mosses, fields shrouded in mist… I’m enjoying the feeling all I can, because before long, autumn itself will have fallen away like the leaves.

Some images from our beautiful property here on the hill…

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Here’s a past post about October, which includes a poem I highly recommend everyone read this time of year…

…and here’s last year’s post recognizing my parent’s 54th wedding anniversary. This year will be mom’s first without dad.

 

 

October’s First October 1, 2013

Thought I’d re-post this fine poem today, in honor of the first day of October. This is the month of my parent’s wedding anniversary, it’s the month when I pull out all the stops and make my son a killer Halloween costume, and it exists in that delightful window of fine, temperate, mosquito-free weather when the trees seem to glow from the inside out and the air smells rich and invigorating. I just love fall. It always seems just a bit too brief, so each single day of it –  each hour even – is a treat to be savored.

October’s Bright Blue Weather   by Helen Hunt Jackson

 

 

Silly Poem April 16, 2013

Silly Poem

a poem by Elihu, written today during a rainy recess period…

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I’m going on a trip to the center of the universe

What do you think I should pack?

A sack and some shoes and a cow that moos, and a plate and some milk and a snack

A yak for good measure, a couch for the pleasure of sitting right down to a rest

A lunch box, a brick, some balls and a stick and some chocolate that tastes just the best.

And maybe if you’re lucky I’ll take you along…

What do you think you will pack?

 

To Be Ten April 10, 2013

As tired as we both were, tonite, when we got into bed, our minds would not stop and we continued

to chat as old friends who haven’t seen each other in a very long time will do… Elihu had a poem inside of him,

so I got out the computer to get this thoughts down as soon as we could

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to be ten is something different. it’s not what you used to be,

everything is different, all the things you hear and see…

are not quite the same as they were when you were nine

cuz when you were only nine, everything seemed good, and fine

but now that you’ve turned ten you say to yourself again

I don’t think things are quite the same as they used to be…

Elihu

 

Quotation January 18, 2013

Night before last, as I lay in bed with Elihu and we chatted, recounting the events of the day, he asked if he could recite a new poem he’d just learned that day in school. It told the story of a frog and a bird who posed challenges to each other based on what they knew of the world from their own experiences. In the end, each was surprised by the other – because his opponent possessed qualities that he himself had never before imagined possible. A moment passed in silence, as we both considered the ramifications of the story.

“I think I know what the moral is,” Elihu said. Then, without missing a beat, he continued:

“Never assert yourself as the best until you know your contenders.”

We parents are continually amazed by the things our children say, and so often we think we’ll remember them, but in spite of our best intentions, we just don’t. I know myself well. I knew that I wouldn’t remember it – as beautiful as it was – unless I wrote it down. So I pulled myself in a groggy daze out of bed, found my dry erase marker and wrote it on our kitchen board. Glad I did, because it was a lovely little surprise this morning. Makes me happy to know that I’ve replaced myself here on this earth with such a thoughtful human being.

 

October’s Bright Blue Weather October 12, 2012

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal... — wingmother @ 7:51 am
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Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

October’s Bright Blue Weather

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

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Each year there is one crisp, blue and yellow day that expands almost til it bursts; the day on which I instantly recall this poem. I first learned about it from a friend, Les Brownlee, who, when in his eighties and nearing the end of his incredibly full life as a pioneering black journalist in Chicago (he coined the phrase “eyewitness news”), robustly recited aloud the first lines of the poem on just such an October day many years ago. I knew instantly that I would make it part of the landscape of my years, a personal tradition to keep for my own. While I would never commit the poem to memory in it’s entirety as Les and those of his generation did so often and so well, I would work to learn the first few lines and to have them on the ready as a surprise autumnal gift to give at just the perfect moment.

Surrounded by the red and white of Les’ beloved alma mater UW Madison (and the occasional fighting badger adorning a wall clock or hand towel) my husband and I would join a generous-sized gathering at his home on many Sundays throughout our life in Evanston, Illinois. He and his wife Priscilla were the family and hearth we were missing in our contemporary, parent-less lives. That era has long since come to a close, but how lucky I am to take with me those memories of friendship and inclusion – as well as a few choice poems and stories.

One or two days a year, when the weather turns just so, I think of you, dear Les, and I send you my gratitude for helping to write a lovely stanza in my own life’s poem.