When Fall turns to Winter

Bean & Bantam all rights reservedIn Vermont, the leaves in autumn flare with color and light, like a lit match that burns out too soon; intense and brief, confined to the months of September and October. During my early morning coffee, the sunlight comes through the windows and finds me on the couch, blinking at the unexpected slant of light, sunlight’s lower angle at this time of day so much lower than in summertime.

On the drive to work, fields of corn grown for silage lose their green color in October, the standing stalks are wheat colored, and field by field they are harvested by choppers and dump trucks, driven to farm bunkers and packed down to ferment for feeding cows.  The chopper drives through the fields, closely attended by dump trucks to catch the silage as it is chopped and poured from a chute on the chopper.  Driving through our valley, with corn fields on either side, and then wooded mountains, we share the road with farm trucks loaded up with silage, speeding from farm bunkers to the fields and back, the wind swirling bits off of the truck loads, a swirl of gold through the air like the farm version of fairy dust (or dairy farm dust).

Birds whirl in flocks, across the road and across the fields, flying in loops and waves, a flying drift somehow in formation and never crashing.   The wind helps the leaves from the trees, pushes single leaves in lonely flutters across the roads and fields, they accumulate in drifts when they meet an obstacle.  Geese fly overhead, past smoky gray tree branches silhouetted dark against the sky, their movement towards the closing of the year.

Leaves and flocks and melancholy as the year comes to a close; I’m reminded of a long-ago visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, where in the dim halls along the open courtyard on the second floor are glass-topped wooden cases, and the glass is covered by screening fabric easily moved aside to peer below within the case at an extensive collection of handwritten letters, preserved thoughts, ancient signatures, famous names.  Like leaves gathered and pinned, written and collected from a flock of writers now deceased, brilliant plumage now only preserved in cursive and spidery script, screened and shaded behind glass, hard to decipher, but a thread to the past and into thoughts and lives once lived.

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This fall, as the season has turned, I’ve felt like something is missing.  Narrowing it down, I just don’t feel like my usual self.  When I tried to pin the feeling down and decipher it, I decided it was as if a thin thread of excitement and interest and intensity, a thread that usually serves to knit and bind the mundane of life together, a sparkling line of thread, an ingredient something like the effect of caffeine (but with glitter!), some sort of oomph and verve and mischief is missing.  I’m in search of it; I really do need it back.  I haven’t been writing much, and I think it might help to write more, and maybe  if I not only write more, but read more, and choose to run on the treadmill rather than slog on the couch.  I’ve been watching far too much television, and that hasn’t helped.

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We bring in apples, using a ladder and a long-pole picker, and still so many remain that we cannot reach, the trees overgrown and high.  We dry the heads of sunflowers packed with seeds, tucked into the coop rafters for the chickens (and the mice, although I wish they would find other accommodations), and pumpkins and squash are set out to cure. We gather laundry baskets of apples picked from the trees before a hard frost, and we make pie, and sauce, and dried apple rings. The chickens pick through fallen apples on the ground, their feathers fluffed.

The weather  turns markedly colder in November, and it is now dark on my ride home from work.  I check the main coop and the smaller coop by flashlight, collecting chilled eggs into a basket, counting to make sure all are in, securing the doors, and then heading for the house and dinner.

In the dark and the chill, with my flashlight, I remember the vibrant leaf color and warmth of the low-angled sunlight of the season, colorful and brief, a flare of light that doesn’t illuminate all the way through the dark evenings and muted colors of winter.  I light a candle, and wait for the end of December when the days begin to lengthen.

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20 thoughts on “When Fall turns to Winter

  1. Margit Van Schaick

    So glad to see your new post. I do believe that sparkle will have more room to shine brightly when the Winter Solstice brings longer days, minute by minute. I always figure the worst of Winter is over at that moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Martha Adams

    Your comments remind me of my years in Vermont. I do miss the fall foliage, but certainly not the short cold winter days. Thank you for your (to seldom) posts, Daphne. You are a very inspirational writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I struggle with the confines of winter. I have vowed to not let it defeat me this season! I will not allow myself on the couch until 8 p.m. I Will do something creative. I will find at least one new thing to spark me this winter. I will exercise 30 minutes per day. Don’t give up. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting–I’ll manage to pull through, I have a treadmill and snowshoes, and knitting, and a toddler and fluffy chickens to keep me active, and good books, and when all else fails a little bourbon and Netflix.

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  4. Surely hope you will find your way to writing this winter, you are so very skilled at this craft. When I see that you have posted something, I know I’m in for a treat. We are planning to host a writing workshop here this winter ( in new studio…yeah!!!), a wonderful teacher will come to guide us in the practice. For me, it is always having the discipline to sit , organize my thoughts, and put words to paper. I get a bit distracted with making soup and hauling in firewood!
    Hope the yarn arrived and that it pleases you, yes….knit, knit, knit….before long we’ll be right back to dig, dig, dig!
    warmest wished to you, d

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Denise, the yarn is GORGEOUS, I am dillying and dallying in trying to decide what to knit with it (the anticipation is almost as good as the knitting). What a wonderful plan, a writing workshop in the winter, and congrats on the new studio. I enjoy your posts, and it is good to while away the winter a bit before the digging of spring (although I bought a great many crocus on sale and have to plant them right away, so I have a bit more digging yet). Warm wishes back at you!

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  5. Happy that you got off the couch. Love your style and richness of thought. I know you will never have enough time, even in Winter, to do all the things that need you, but keep writing, if only for the rest of us. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Richard, it is good to hear from you! I will keep writing, I need it almost as much as reading. Maybe more, or maybe it’s a tie? I am looking forward to reading more of that magical Harding family poetry and prose (I feel like I have a good stash of great reading to look forward to…I’m a bit behind).

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      1. Thanks Daphne. I am at least 2 months behind and trying to catch up. I’m having trouble reorganizing my site, trying to get old and new postings into a Portfolio menu. The “new and improved” WP editor is giving me fits. Thought it was just me but now I see lots of other folks are complaining about it too. There are some short stories pending and I hope to get several other things published in the next few days. Some you will have seen before.
        Happy Thanksgiving and have a happy winter as well. Dick.

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    1. Hi Deby, I imagine a small dragon on a Victorian sofa when you say couch monster! yes a good plan to look for something fun, I’ve been incorporating more fun, and will continue, and also planning and planting things to anticipate for spring (such as planting a drift of 1,000 crocus for spring blooms). Plus, I always feel much better with exercise and drinking the recommended amount of water (strange, but it helps!).

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  6. I miss the Vermont autumns and the geese who heralded the colder months as well as the spring. My husband and I always loved that mid-winter frigid day when suddenly the solstice would start slowly lengthening the light, it felt like spring was right around the corner (well, four months away, really, but lighter!). Hunker down, drink hot cider, and happy writing.

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  7. Pingback: As Summer Turns to Fall – BEAN & BANTAM

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