ONE GOLDEN AUTUMN EVENING – Marilyn Armstrong

A Golden Autumn Evening


Yellow trees and our gate

It was a sunny day. A beautiful day.  I painted a little piece of my front door that needed retouching because when we replaced the lock and door handle, it didn’t precisely fit where the old one had been.

Then, after that, it got gray for a while. I was sad that we couldn’t have a single sunny day, uninterrupted. I was so sad, the sun felt sorry for me and came back.

Red maple
The road was truly golden

As we headed toward evening, the trees along the driveway turned to gold and our maple turned red and orange. Some of the roses are still blooming. They do look a little bedraggled, but alive.

Red maple, yellow aspen
Dark red maple

Indian Summer

It rained for a week. We were lucky it didn’t rain very hard and we didn’t get any high winds. Sometimes October storms are fierce. Not only do dying hurricanes meander up the coast from points south, but a nor’easter can strip leaves from the trees, wash away beaches and occasionally cause massive flooding.

Usually, though, we just lose Autumn. Naked trees with a few sad brown leaves still clinging to branches replace the brilliant colors we hoped for. Why do we need the color so much? We yearn for it, dream of it. It’s Christmas for our eyes, the delight of everyone who has a camera.

Yet it’s also an ending, the final breath of summer, glorious and brief.

The rain ended during the night. Today Old Sol was bright and the world was lit with gold, scarlet, russet, and yellow under the warm amber October sunshine.

Everything and everyone looks beautiful in the warm sunlight of October.

It was warm today, warm enough for shorts and tees and sandals. Indian summer is here. If we are lucky, it might last into November … but it might end tomorrow.

No time to waste. Keep the camera batteries charged. Be alert. Stay ready to go and grab the season. Winter will be here soon enough.

Time to hunt for pumpkins, time to carve the Jack o’ lanterns. Time to pick a Halloween costume. Time to enjoy a last burst of beauty and sunshine before New England‘s fickle weather turns our wold to ice and snow.

The Meetinghouse

The old Quaker Meetinghouse, built 1771. Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

They hold one service every year at the old meetinghouse. It’s the oldest meetinghouse in the country and most of the year it’s closed, although I’m pretty sure you can rent it for weddings, though I’m not sure how.

The meetinghouse is open on Thanksgiving morning and there is a Quaker service. The church is only slightly heated, just enough to make it possible to sit there for an hour and a half and unless the day is unusually warm, you need to wear your overcoat even during the service. It’s cold and the pews are hard, but it’s the perfect place to give thanks.

Besides the autumn poets sing,

A few prosaic days

A little this side of the snow

And that side of the haze.

A few incisive mornings,

A few ascetic eves, –

Gone Mr. Bryant’s golden-rod,

And Mr. Thomson’s sheaves.

Emily Dickinson

Lake Chaubunagungamaug In Autumn

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, or Lake Chargoggaggoggmancogmanhoggagogg (and other various spellings) is also known as Webster Lake, which is what I call it. It’s quite a big lake. Surrounded by trees, many of them maple, it can be spectacular in the fall.

For the non-New Englanders, maple trees are the ones that produce the brilliant red, gold, and orange leaves. Oak leaves turn a soft yellow, most other trees turn, at best, light red. We have fewer maple trees than we used to, probably because the oak trees have taken over the woodlands, blocking the sunlight and stunting the growth of smaller trees. For once, it’s nothing man has done: it’s just nature doing its own thing.

So, wherever you can find maple trees, especially near a body of water, that’s where you find the brilliant autumn leaves for which New England is famous. Now that August is nearing its end, all of us are hoping for a good autumn. It’s not just the color, it’s also that the fall is usually the nicest weather of the year and with a little luck, can stretch for as long as two months, more or less. The last two years have been washouts: too much rain at the wrong time took the leaves down before they reached full color.

Late afternoon in October.

Maybe this year? It sounds like I’m talking about the Red Sox. I know that they aren’t going to give us a beautiful Autumn, so I can but hope that the leaves will do the job. Autumn is our reward for surviving New England‘s other seasons. We deserve a beautiful season full of crisp weather and bright leaves.

Sunlight through bright maple leaves by the lake’s shore.

Here’s to a fine years for the leaves. From the shores of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I bring you gleaming waters and brilliant scarlet maple trees with the sun shining through.