A Raggedy Autumn

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Robert Frost, October

Fall has come to Humptulips County. Its appearance is tatterdemalion, not opulent as in years past. We’ve had too little rain, and the leaves, tired for the lack of it, wrinkled early on the branch and do not reflect the smokey light in their normal manner. Some began falling in mid-August, leaving their hosts partially undressed and challenged to display the full glory of their usual autumnal raiment.

The Virginia creeper residing in the pine outside our kitchen window is an off-shade of its usual deep burgundy, a shade not quite up to full capability. The pine survives as pines always seem to do, apparently unaffected by the dry weather. The annual blooming of their symbiosis continues to inspire, but more for the effort each is making to appear normal than for resulting visual effects.

We expect rain this weekend – perhaps just enough to trick a little more color into the unfallen leaves. What color we have is less vibrant than usual, as if faded by prolonged exposure to too much sunlight. More color would be nice, for we can never have enough: even if we were to be blessed with a more colorful Autumn, our Northwest hearts would secretly yearn for the more glorious displays of the Northeast.

But nothing is truly lost. For those colors we do enjoy remain sufficient to stoke the hearts’ fires, the fires that light the cloistered hearths of the coming season and yield the passions necessary for overwintering.

About Gavin Stevens

Humptulips County is the wholly fictional on-line residence of Stephen Ellis, a would-be writer, an avid fan of William Faulkner and his Yoknapatawpha County, and a retired lawyer.
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