Autumn is peeking around the corner of summer, anxiously waiting her entrance into the hills. She has sent forth some preliminary signals, with yellow poplar leaves whirling and twirling through the air at the slightest gust of wind. Sourwoods are turning crimson, and the bronze-gold of the beeches gleam among the greener trees. Fall’s colors blend harmoniously with the deep purple of the ironweed, the yellows of goldenrod and wild sunflowers, and the brilliant blue of wild ageratum. The heavy heads of Joe-Pye weed hang downward, slowly turning from light purple to gray. Crickets play a melancholy tune accompanied by the strident cry of the katydids. As the nights grow cooler, their cries grow more frantic. They, too, sense that summer is slipping away, and the colder weather is on its way. These late summer evenings are pleasant, as the heat of the day dies away and cool air takes its place. We sit on daughter Patty’s front porch and watch the fading sunset, and the tension and stress of the day drain away with the muted hum of the night insects. The porch swing creaks as Mom cuddles and swings the newest baby of the family. Five generations of our family are here together, and we talk and laugh as evening shadows deepen around us.
There is nothing like a front porch, with the accompanying swing, to promote family togetherness. A house that still has these old-fashioned additions is a home that is blessed indeed. A porch swing will bring back memories of hundreds of almost forgotten evenings when families gathered after supper to rest and talk. The mind goes back. This porch is built of rough boards and is unpainted, with woodbine now turning red winding around the porch posts. Mom is rocking the baby and humming softly, while the old swing is crowded with young’uns. Grandpa is sitting on a straight chair, with the back leaned against the wall, slapping his leg and chuckling at something Daddy has said. There’s a feeling of security and love that surrounds us, as tangible as the quirr of the tree frogs and hum of the night insects. After all these years, this love still lingers.
Patty’s porch is shaded by morning glory vines that twine all the way to the top of the porch roof. They are studded with heavenly blue blossoms during the day, but close up tightly at nightfall. This is another time, another generation, but the same circle of love and security surrounds and enfolds us. Misty blue shadows are creeping across the meadows and filling up the hollows of the hills. A half-moon hangs in the sky, with the first stars beginning to twinkle. This time of evening makes me think of the words to an old song, “Twilight is stealing over the sea/ Shadows are falling dark on the lea/ Borne on the night winds voices of yore/ Come from that far-off shore. Far away/ Beyond the starlit sky/ Where the lovelight never, never dies …” Love never dies as long as memory remains. Well, I’ll put my nostalgic thoughts away for a while.
I love all the seasons, but autumn (especially October) is dearest to my heart. September has said goodbye and fled the hills. Autumn came in with little fanfare, and the scorching days are gone. The nights grow noticeably cooler, making a warm blanket feel good at night. Although we haven’t had any frost yet, it won’t be long until a creeping white death will take away the tender flowers and lingering vegetables. There is a subtle and almost imperceptible change in the leaves now. A yellowish haze spreading amid the green, and here and there an individual tree can be spotted that has turned color. A sense of urgency is felt in the air, as nature prepares for colder weather. Woodland animals are busy storing away food for the winter, as they scurry back and forth with their seeds and nuts. The groundhog puts on pounds as he stores away fat for his winter’s nap. Squirrels are busy hiding their cache of food in hollow trees and also underground.
It is a source of wonder to witness God’s laws in motion. He placed the instinct to survive in the smallest animal. Birds and some butterflies migrate, and the species that die with the end of summer leave behind the seed of a new life come spring. God’s law of the universe is perfect. Autumn follows summer, and spring comes again. The sun rises and sets, the moon and stars appear, and day follows night. All move at God’s command. If mankind would be as obedient to the commandments of God as nature is, we would live in a perfect world. God has blessed our hills, especially in October. If I should ever be forced to leave these hills, October would draw me back like a magnet.
Cousin Alyce Faye