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Linda's Salute to Fall



"Crazy Over Colors"

Autumn Poetry

Autumn Images

Autumn "Lifesavors"

Autumn Links


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Vermont birchesWhat's the happiest day of the year?

Many people might invariably says "Christmas!" or "The first day of vacation!" Children might insist, "The last day of school!"

For my part, it's the day we shut the air conditioner down for the season.

While I welcomed summer like those children when I was their age, the presence of summer was always a debatable joy. Sure there was no school from mid-June through Labor Day. And summer meant we were going somewhere on vacation, whether it was to visit an aunt in Massachusetts or partake of even greater joys in places like Williamsburg and Lake George and Quebec. I was always possessed of a wanderlust and late spring and early summer was always an agony of waiting for July 4th week (my dad's customary vacation) to arrive.

But summer had its downsides. Heat for one; growing up with no air conditioning, there are still memories of those breathless summer nights when Dad prowled the house looking for some relief and I lay upside down in the bed, hoping for a breeze from the two windows down at the foot. Sun was another: it gave me headaches. Worse was Mom's litany: go outside and get some fresh air. Why go out in the sun, sweat and get a headache when it was much nicer to stretch out next to the fan and read a book? I was terrible at games anyway and the only thing that I did well was play tag, a pastime that, after age ten, was declassee among socially-conscious female classmates who considered it "babyish."

Worse, in the summer Rhode Island was invaded by tourists; all our favorite haunts on Sunday afternoon rides--a tradition from early childhood--from Galilee to Point Judith to Newport to Diamond Hill were clotted with cars from Massachusetts and Connecticut (you had to pay to park at their beaches, so they came to ours). Dad complained as we inched through the traffic and sweltered.

Living in Georgia in the summer has its own set of problems: an overabundance stinging insects and smothering heat. We joke that sometimes the air is thick enough to see, or that it hits you in the face like a wet, steaming washrag, and movement is just to get from one air-conditioned haven to another. I've said more than once that I spend summer half in hibernation, waiting for a livable climate.

Given all that, nothing can beat those equinotical winds!

Fall is like spring again without all the problems. Spring means glorious color in the Atlanta, due to an abundance of flowering trees, but it also means pollen and sneezing--and that dreaded summer is on its way. By mid-May even the attic fan can't chase away the heat and the air conditioner--followed by the inevitable sky-high electric bills--is pressed into service, chugging its endless litany day and night.

Fall, if the conditions are right, means color as well, the high color of autumn leaves. While spring is white and reds and pinks and yellows, fall is scarlet and crimson, orange and flame color, saffron, even red-purples dotted with the pale trunks of white birches and the pure green of the fir trees. The breezes eddy and cool and the windows are thrown open again and bodies feel alive without the heat sapping their energy.

Autumn is also full of holidays, from Columbus Day, usually the "last hurrah" of weekend trips, but more importantly the time the leaves reach their peak in Northern New England, to Veteran's Day to Thanksgiving to those mysterious, anticipatory days before the winter holidays that lead into the winter solstice. It's leaves to be crunched when no one is looking, heady scents of a chill day, skies so blue they hurt, cleansing breezes, rainy weekend days just right for reading or sleeping.

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"Crazy Over Colors"

From childhood I've been "a color junkie," whether it was something as small as the 64 box of Crayolas to fireworks on St. Mary's Feast Sunday, multicolor flower beds to the equally multicolor lights on the Christmas tree. Little wonder then that fall, followed so closely by winter that they trod on one another's heels (I was as dotty about snow as I was about color), was my favorite season. Spring was pretty, with its forsythia yellow and tulip red, but it couldn't hold a candle to the other end of the year.

I also remember autumn as one of the rare times during the year I saw my dad "play." Oh, even my introverted father had a great time at our big, noisy Italian gatherings: weddings, showers, holiday celebrations. (My bemused best friend, speaking of her wedding, still comments about what a good time my dad had--he even caught the garter!) But usually he was quiet unless some situation elicited some emotional response: the first sight of the Grand Canyon, a beautiful vista along the freeway, his favorite Disney attraction of all time, It's a Small World.

Fall in Roger Williams Park, Providence, Rhode Island (from Providence Journal website)When I was small, as soon as the trees became their most brilliant, we used to make a pilgrimage out to a certain open field across from the water purification plant at the Scituate Reservior. Not only was my small self fascinated by the big fountains of waters outside the waterworks, but lining the edge of the field were maples, elms, oaks, and other trees, bright in their reds and oranges and yellows. Daddy and I would walk down to the edge of the field, trailed by Mom, gather leaves--and often play tag, chasing each other around the field. What I remember most about those excursions was laughter--from the chase, from picking out just the best leaves for a bouquet, from anticipation of ice cream at Newport Creamery afterwards.

Once my mother went back to work when I was in junior high school, we had extra cash for things such as vacations, so as I got older, we wandered farther afield for our leaf viewing (alas, the State of Rhode Island eventually fenced in our magic "playfield" at the reservoir). We eventually ended up doing the Columbus Day weekend jaunt so familiar to hundreds of New Englanders, the "ride to see the leaves" up to New Hampshire, with the inevitable stop at the State Liquor Store cheerfully situated on both the northbound and southbound sides of Interstate 93, to get the annual supply of alcohol before the Christmas holidays (brandy and vermouth to offer visiting uncles and of course the essential gallon of hearty burgundy for a supply of wine biscuits). Judging by the traffic going in and out of both places, it was a annual stop for many folks.

The leaves never failed to delight. No matter how good the quality of the color around the Scituate Reservoir, the leaves of New Hampshire and Vermont always surpassed them. Indeed, there were some years they appeared lit from within, since we seemed to encounter our share of cloudy days for the trek. Against a dark, dank drizzly sky, instead of conquered by the rain, the leaves glowed despite it, liquid gold and vivid orange and startling scarlet. By the time Columbus Day weekend arrived, the rare white birches had already lost their leaves and their trunks were bright flashes in between the riotous deciduous trees and the gracious dark green of the firs.

During one of our summer trips to Lake George we had discovered a better route than the Mass Pike and the Northway (I-87): Interstate 93 to Route 4 across New Hampshire and thence to Vermont and finally New York. On the route was a lone shop on a hill called "Scotland by the Yard" (filled with the most marvelous woollen goods), Killington and Piko Peak (deserted in this season, although one particular wintry October we drove through a swirl of snowflakes), the picturesque village of Woodstock (driving through which I could only press my face against the glass of the car window and long to see since Daddy had a horror of what he called "tourist traps"), and our favorite place, Queechee Gorge, just over the Vermont border. Today there are outlet stores there; when we began going it there was only a small souvenir post hawking cheeses, maple products, and the inevitable cedar remembrances--to this day the smell of cedar reminds me of souvenir shops.

Once walking Queechee Gorge ("Vermont's Grand Canyon"), you forgot the road, the bridge, the shop. Five minutes from cars and trucks, there was almost a complete silence of a wooded path, with only the rustle of dried leaves underfoot, the rush of the water in the river below, and the scramble of squirrels to break it. Each tree was more vivid than the last, more shades of the basic color than you could imagine, the darkest of the scarlet trees even moving into the realm of purple.

One year, away from the prying eyes of parents, I left the path and entered the woods proper. Careful to set a landmark to return to (no need to become a statistic, after all), I spent twenty minutes or so turned back in time, an explorer of the "forest primaeval," scuffing leaves, walking the ridge of fallen trees, hopping over brushwood, following a trail that perhaps was a deer's-- though more likely belonging to a human visitor like myself--between twists of scarlet sumac. High above the sky was blotted out by the tops of the trees and even the last of the road sounds vanished. I supposed it was cold, but I hardly felt it.

I couldn't stay too long--the words "worry" and "Mom" being synonymous--but I managed to drink in what memories I could. Today I can still close my eyes, see the treetops, the tilted trunks of long-dead trees, the crooked pathway behind me, the joyous colors of the leaves and the brush.

Maine harbor with leavesOddly, our efforts to proceed west always seemed met with disaster. The two times we tried to view the leaves at one of my favorite places in the world, Lake George, New York, it was rainy and cold. The sun did manage to break through on one trip and we have foggy, but colorful photos of the area from the top of Prospect Mountain (the park there then a new feature, the area having been closed for years after the last hotel on the summit burned down in the heyday of resort hotels). Ironically, the most beautiful tree we saw, a brilliant scarlet maple whose vivid color nearly hurt our eyes on that gloomy day, was at a stolid, unimaginative little rest area, directly next to the rest rooms!

(I hoped to break the "jinx" years later when my mother, husband, and I drove the familiar route once more; alas, it rained again, although for a second time on Prospect Mountain the sun struggled its way through thick clouds to give him one shining, elusive view of the lake, a shimmering crystal blue surrounded by crimson and flame.)


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Autumn Poetry


The Milkweed
Cecil Cavendish

The milkweed pods are breaking,
     And the bits of silken down
Float off upon the autumn breeze
     Across the meadows brown.

I wish three times, and watch them go
     Far as my eyes can see.
Some day a faery wind will blow
     My wishes back to me!


An Autumn Day
Eleanore Myers Jewett

On such a day of singing blue
The maddest, gladdest dreams come true!
I know, because the maple-trees
Have turned a redder, golder hue,
     And every keen, smoke-scented breeze
     Thrills me with hinted mysteries.
I know, for heaven was never spanned
     With fleeter, whiter clouds than these!
On such a day each road is planned
To lead to some enchanted land;
     Each turning meets expectancy.
The signs I read on every hand.
     I know by autumn's wizardry
On such a day the world can be
Only a great glad dream for me--
Only a great glad dream for me!



Come, Little Leaves
George Cooper

"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."

Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
singing the glad little songs they knew.

"Cricket, goodbye, we've been friends so long;
Little brook, sing us your farewell song;
Say you are sorry to see us go;
Ah, you will miss us, right well we know.

"Dear little lambs in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
fondly we watched you in vale and glade;
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"

Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went;
Winter had called them, and they were content;
soon, fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a coverlid over their heads.



Fall Sparrows
Angela Call

The cold, late autumn weather seemed
No time for nesting; but the pair,
We guessed, had spied this place, deemed
Just right—our spacious hanging basket
Of pink geraniums with one bloom.
The basket swayed, and plans took shape
As grasses, twigs, and bright pink plume
Circled to cradle baby ones.
We applauded the chirping, gritty
Two on their finished, arduous work—
Sturdy, cat-safe, and flower pretty.



Steven-Adele Morley

One by
One by
Twos and
The petals
Fall from
Off the trees.
Crimson, yellow,
Orange, maize,
Red and bright
Before my gaze.
Transfixed I stand
More hypnotized
Than if I stared
Into the eyes
Of some great master.
Here today the softened
That paints the garnet
In the leaves;
but gone tomorrow will they be,
Leaving but the barren tree.



Dancing Leaves
Louise Valley

The wind is whistling
     Through the trees;
It plays a tune
     For dancing leaves.
They swing and sway
     Around, around.
Dancing till they
     Touch the ground.
A little leaf here,
     A little leaf there,
Until the branches
     All are bare.
Then winter's frost
     Completes the show,
And dancing leaves
     Are covered with snow.



The Unraked Leaf
Tom McFadden

Bright, solo leaf, now unpursued,
Seems ember in time's interlude.
     Surviving, shiny autumn flake,
          Missed by early winter rake.

          Fallen brightness, salient,
     Briefly lengthens season spent,
Its wondrous hues a last contrast
     To the chilled and fading grass.

          A moment cast of special un
Throws glitter in a rainbow run—
     Resplendent flash of magic brief
          In final spell of unraked leaf.



Something Told the Wild Geese
Rachel Field

Something told the wild geese
     It was time to go.
Thought the fields lay golden,
     Something whispered, "Snow."

Leaves were green and stirring,
     Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
     Something cautioned, "Frost."

All the sagging orchards
     Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
     At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
     It was time to fly,
Summer sun was on their wings,
     Winter in their cry.



October Wears an Amber Gown
John C. Bonser

When autumn's brightly patterned quilt
     begins to fade and fray,
and corn abandons shriveled stalks
     and fields are flaxen hay;

October stores her sunny clothes,
     puts on an amber gown,
and scatters chestnut-colored leaves
     along the roads to town.

She pauses by a peaceful pond
     where children come to play,
but they're in school and fishes hide
     in waters chilled and gray.

Alone, she hikes the woodland trails
     through forests sere and still;
then slowly clibes in purple boots
     up far November Hill.



Berniece Ayers Hall

Thank You, God, for autumn trees
On dark hills that burn
Like bold torches. Oh, from these
there is much to learn.
When October winds have swept
Down with chilling blast,
Wise and patient trees have kept,
Treasuring till last,
Then to lavish gold and red
Like a living flame.
Thus with beauty earth is fed
As the hills proclaim
Praises 'neath a cheerless sky.
So in autumn, Lord, would I.



Bonfire Days

Grace Strickler Dawson

Ho! for the leaves that eddy down,
Crumpled yellow and withered brown,
Hither and yonder and up the street
And trampled under the passing feet;
Swirling, billowing, drifting by,
With a whisper soft and a rustling sigh,
Starting aloft to windy ways,
Telling the coming of bonfire days.

Ho! for the rakes that young hands wield,
Gathering leaves from far afield,
Heaping them high and wide and long,
For the scurrying of feet, the snatch of song,
And the flurrying gust that all the while
Swishes the edge of the big, brown pile,
Ready to leap to a crackling blaze--
Ho! for the joys of bonfire days.

Ho! for the blue-gray smoke that curls
Suddenly skyward, then unfurls
A wide, dim mantle above the flare
Of the red flame's flash and the white flame's glare--
A blue-gray mantle that floats afar
Through the half-bare trees where the last leaves are,
And bears in its folds of gossamer haze
The pungent tang of the bonfire days.



Autumn Days
Marian Douglas

Fire! fire! upon the maple-bough
     The red flames of the frost!
Fire! fire! by burning woodbine, see,
     The cottage roof is crossed!
The hills are hid by smoky haze!
Look ! how the roadside sumachs blaze !
And on the withered grass below
The fallen leaves like bonfires glow!

Come, let us hasten to the woods
     Before the sight is lost;
For few and brief the days when burn
     The red fires of the frost;
When loud and rude the north-wind blows,
The ruddy splendor quickly goes ;
But now, hurrah ! those days are here,
The best and loveliest of the year!

Autumn scene from The Weather Channel

A New England scene from The Weather Channel

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Autumn Images

Vermont farmlandVermont farmland
country road A country road
(Country Extra)
Sullivan Country, NYA country lane in New York
Blue Ridge Parkway Blue Ridge Parkway
(Blue Ridge Country)
Fall on Illinois farmFall on an Illinois farm
Tree reflects its beauty A tree reflects its beauty
A country road overhung with treesA country road overhung with trees
Country trail A country trail
(Country Extra)
Blue Ridge ParkwayBlue Ridge Parkway
A road through the treesWinding through the trees
New England sugar shackNew England sugar shack
Steps to the falls Stairsteps with waterfall
Flagstaff, Arizona, a road lined with golden leavesA road lined with golden leaves in Flagstaff, Arizona
Trees in the mist Mist burns off on a fall morning
(Vermont Life)

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Autumn "Lifesavors" *

» ...bright-eyed chipmunks with their cheeks full of goodies gathered for winter.

» ..."apple" trees: those trees that turn from green to red like a ripening apple.

» ...brightly colored trees playing ring-a-rosy around a reflective pond.

» trees with only their tips turned to scarlet and gold.

» ...the faraway, sharp scent of burning leaves.

» ...a brisk breeze that showers you with colorful leaves.

» ...the golden glow of the air.

» ...white birch trees sketched against the fall leaves.

» ...woodsy roads lined with blazing bushes.

* With apologies to Reader's Digest

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Autumn Links

Leaf buttonMy Thanksgiving Page

Leaf buttonYankee Magazine Foliage Info

Leaf buttonWeather Channel

Leaf buttonNew Hampshire Foliage Report

Leaf buttonU. S. Forest Service Fall Foliage Report

Leaf buttonVermont Fall Foliage

Leaf buttonChemistry of Autumn

Leaf buttonThe Foliage Network

Leaf buttonJust What is Indian Summer?

Leaf buttonAutumn in The Holiday Zone

Leaf buttonHigh Holy Days on the Net

Leaf buttonCanadian Thanksgiving

Leaf buttonFacts About Canadian Thanksgiving

Leaf button1492

Leaf buttonChristopher Columbus


Leaf buttonBilly Bear's Hallowe'en

Leaf buttonHallowe'en on the Net

Leaf buttonThe History of Hallowe'en

Leaf button The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows

Leaf button An Old Fashioned Hallowe'en

Leaf button Vintage Hallowe'en

Leaf buttonGuy Fawkes and Bonfire Night

Leaf buttonThe Making of "In Flanders Fields"

Leaf buttonPBS's The Great War

Leaf buttonThe Great War Series

Leaf buttonWorld War I Remembered on the BBC

Leaf buttonRemembrance Day

Leaf buttonSheryl's Veteran's Day Site

Leaf buttonArlington National Cemetery


The images on this page were culled from various sources, including the Providence Journal website, the Weather Channel website, Yankee Magazine (both linked above), Vermont Life, Blue Ridge Country, and Country and Country Extra magazine (periodicals by Reiman Publications). I hope they do not mind my using their images in this small paean to my favorite season. If so, I will remove them. If you enjoy the Country photos, I heartily suggest you buy or subscribe to the magazine.


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