As I was saying, then, it was August, and the river meandered with its August pace.
I boarded a train that traveled tracks in orbits. Which is to say I went some distance and gravity pulled me right back to where I started, only in October, and there are golden leaves all over my desk.
I was reading this morning–
[in our Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which, by the way is “compact” only in that the print is so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to read it; also, which we own because back in the late 70s or early 80s, the Book of the Month Club had this amazing offer where, if you signed up for a few months, you could get a free gift, and one choice was the Compact OED, and being the bookish nerd teen that I was, I had to have it. I don’t remember any of the books I bought from the Book of the Month Club, but I’ve lugged the OED to every dorm room, apartment, and house I’ve in lived since then; also, back to the notion of “compact,” let’s just say that I carried it downstairs this morning and it’s heavier than a baby, both cats combined, and most other things I’ve carried around this house; it would not be be one of the objects I toss in my backpack for a weekend writing retreat, but keep in mind that this was back when they printed things on paper, so “compact” is a relative term; also, the process of reading it with a magnifying glass while wearing contact lenses and reading glasses is quite a miracle of optics; I did not need reading glasses when I first owned this dictionary]
–the definition of the word “fallow” (which covers two full columns of tiny-print text) and was for some reason pleased to remember that it is a noun, a verb, and an adjective.
It is the name of the idle, unplanted field itself, and the action of plowing and harrowing the field, and the state of the seemingly barren field, and the pale color of that overturned soil after it’s been in the sun for a day.
It is also the act of becoming pale, of fading, and withering.
It is also a pale, yellowish-brown color. The coat of the Fallow deer. The shade of the fallow leaves.
It is also the color of the unwritten page. Or the state of being inward. Or the quiet mind itself.
It is the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when the year is examined, when you look inside yourself to see how you’ve strayed and failed, and how you can be better. The still moment where you whisper over the seeds for the coming year before you plant them in that clean, welcoming soil.
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, from A Boy’s Will, 1913
Irene came and went, and left autumn in her wake.
Unlike so many in Vermont, we are lucky and had no water damage at all. We never even lost power. The only thing we lost was a day of school, which was more a bonus day of summer than a loss.
This morning is foggy. All that water everywherethe filled valleys, the swollen rivers, the overflowing pondslifting up into the sky.
There’s a chill in the air, too. And maple leaves down on the ground for the goats to munch.
Guess it’s time to get back to business. Time to put that backpack on and start back to learning. Time to grow up a little more.
The house is so quiet. I cannot wait to hear the day’s report at 2.00 this afternoon.
Update: Day 1 was a success. She greeted me with a big smile and lots of stories of the day. Onward.