It's not October, not for two more days but it's close enough to quote one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, titled "October". If you know me or have my column for very long, you are aware autumn is m favorite season. It's a toss up between October and November for my favorite month. Some years, fall lingers into November with golden day. This year, we'll see.
The signs of fall are evident - the first blush of autumn colors are appearing on the trees. Pumpkins are all around. The weather shift arrived with rain late this weekend and we're enjoying fall weather. There's a hint of woodsmoke in the air and the evenings are crisp and cool. Neosho High School's football homecoming is Friday evening.
The annual Neosho Fall Festival is this Saturday as well.
It's time to stir up a pot of Sontheimer chili, bake an apple cake or pie, and sit down with a cup of tea from one of my favorite blends. I'm not a "pumpkin spice" person but I like pumpkin baked into muffins, breads, pie or cake.
Frost captures the month in the lines of his poem, which is not one of his best known so I'll share it here:
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.
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
Fall often makes an appearance in my novels too - here's a taste from Ryker's Justice;
On this October morning, he inhaled the loam of the woods and savored it. The wind brought a hint of wood smoke, a familiar fragrance. It reminded him he’d have to cut wood soon so he could heat the old house. The first frost of the season two weeks earlier had brought a chill to the long nights but he’d hunkered under a heavy-duty sleeping bag and one of his late mother’s old quilts found in a closet upstairs. Although she had died when he was six, he remembered the smell of the rose scent she favored, the soft timbre of her voice, and the loving contentment he’d known in her arms. Until she died, she’d rocked Jude, the youngest of the family, to sleep every night and sang to him. The maple rocker remained in the living room, although he hadn’t dared plant his muscular frame in the seat. Having it there was enough.
A yellow leaf fluttered to the ground, slow and lazy. Jude hoisted the rifle he carried higher on his left shoulder and scanned the treetops for squirrel. Fried squirrel sounded fine for supper or if he wanted to make the effort, so did squirrel and dumplings. He hadn’t had either for years but he remembered the taste.
It's October and although my schedule doesn't allow much room for slowing down, I'll be wearing a sweater and sipping some tea on the front porch, savoring autumn as much as I can.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the editor of The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author, as both Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and Patrice Wayne. Several of her novels are set in fall including Ryker's Justice.