NEWS FROM THE HILLS

There is dawning another October day—not yet blue, but holding the promise. Now it is early morning gray with gray mist wrapping Pilot Knob in a thick blanket.

Early morning always brings to mind the Bible verse which says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” The Lord makes every day, and whether it is sunny or cloudy, warm or cold, swirling with snowflakes or a pure blue October day like this, we should be rejoice in it.

Gray fog now conceals familiar surroundings and creates a surreal landscape. It must have looked much like this when God first created the earth. The land this morning is without form or substance, and semi-darkness lies upon the face of the earth.

As in the day of creation when God spake, “Let there be light,” the dawning morning brightens, and little by little, the face of our land begins to take shape once more.

Trees appear magically out of the foggy mist, the fence posts take form, and the flashing lights of the school bus make yellow pinpoints through the gloom. The shadowy shape of a house appears, the sound of a closing door is heard, and the shrouded, wavery figures of school children move through the gray mist and board the bus.

A rooster crows some where in the darkness, a hen cackles suddenly, and the silence is broken by the everyday sounds of the farm.

Morning has come, the mist disappears, and the sun shines out of an incredibly blue October sky. These early fall days should not be taken for granted, but each moment should be treasured and lived to the fullest. The sky is bluer now than at any other time of the year, with high drifting clouds that cast dappled shadows across the hills.

October sings a bittersweet song, mingled with the cool notes of autumn. The mournful cry of the crickets is heard all the day long now, along with the sad call of the katydid. They are telling us of the slipping away of summer and warning of cold weather to come.

This is a season of gold. October spills the gold of autumn all over our hills and valleys. The warm, mellow rays of the sun reflect the increasing gold of the beeches, the elm, the hickory, and the poplar. The beeches are scattering leaves of burnished gold over the ground, although most of their gilt flakes will hang on stubbornly for weeks to come.

The goldenrod and evening primrose, along with the gleaming coreopsis vie with the sunbeams for brightness, and the yellow eye of the aster adds its golden note. There is gold before us, gold above us, gold below us, and gold all around us. We are rich in gold.

There is nothing like our hills in October. There is a tangy fragrance that lingers about autumn, spicy with the scent of wild asters warmed in the sun, and the lonesome smell of wood smoke. There is a blue haze in the distant hills and a lingering mist in the morning that burns off to another golden day.

The earth itself wears that indefinable perfume of autumn; that warm, brown smell of hot sunshine on rich soil where leaves fall once more. I like the bittery, dry scent of frost-bitten weeds and flowers after the first freeze comes.

A walk in the woods in October is a solace to the soul. The dry leaves crunch underfoot, while a sudden gust of wind brings a golden shower of floating, fluttering leaves to join the ones on the ground. Time is curiously suspended; the only sound is the sharp chirk of a chipmunk sounding an alarm—an intruder is in his territory.

High in the blue sky a hawk sails, and there is a sudden outcry from a flock of crows. Acorns and hickory nuts are spread under the trees, and here and there are gnawed hulls where the red and gray squirrels have been gathering them. The milkweed pods are bursting, scattering their gossamer floss through the air.

Overhead a flock of songbirds gather, break apart and form once more as they depart on their southern journey. A cricket chirps, a lonely sound in the dry grass, then the woods are silent once more.

There is a tinge of sadness at summer’s passing, and the death of another season. Winter looms ahead, with its ice and snow, and long, cooped-up days in the house. But nature, just as humans, seems to need this time of apparent dormancy to restore energy.

Where each burnished leaf has lost its hold on the weathered, brown branches and fallen to the earth, another spring will see a new bud take its place. And so the cycle of life continues.

The Waynedale News Staff

Alyce Faye Bragg

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