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Autumn: Your Newest Writing Assignment from the Seminar

By Remy

Autumn is arriving softly here this week.

I know where many of you are, you are suffering from the destruction of the terrible path Ivan, Frances, and Charlie too through so much of the country. My heart goes out to you. Our homes are our havens and the pain goes so deep when terrible things happen to them.

Autumn is often a time of thinking of, of appreciating, home. The temperatures begin to drop, the leaves begin to color and then tumble down; frost works its designs on your windows. As spring is often a time for opening up to the outside world, autumn is often a time for the closing in.

We check or replace the weather stripping; we get in a supply of rock salt, wood for fireplaces and dark pot bellied stoves. We stock the pantry for the snow falls to come knowing that there will be ice, black ice, and snow out there to challenge some of us in the morning if we live where those things are common. We drive to work in the dark, and often come home in the dark, missing the daylight for the artificial light of workplaces.

I have a different relationship with autumn and winter since I moved to the deep South. It is pleasant here, inviting here. Even if temperatures may go into the mid-twenties overnight and I have to plug in the heat tapes on the pipes, by late morning the day is comfortable and much of our winter is spent on the open porch.

But when I lived where the snow fell out in the country, in the city, it was pleasant to walk in it at night in the quiet, in the dark, almost hearing each unique flake touch shrub, tree, pavement, or sleeping blueberry bush.

I recall the warm glow of coming into a home in the winter that smelled of dinner cooking, and warmth. Usually it was me cooking dinner, just coming in from a quick outside with the dog. But there is a sense of peace in doing that.

I recall Nor'easters that rocked the house with wind and with rain that fell sideways as it sometimes does here.

I recall the sharp silhouette of bared branches against the grey snow coming sky; the ever sharpening bite of the mid-Atlantic winds as the months moved on to winter. How many times have you said, “I can smell the snow coming.”

I recall the autumn housecleaning, which I still do; the washing/airing of sweaters; the flannel sheets moving onto the beds; the quilts being fluffed; the cider warming.

I miss picking apples from the trees in October.

Write about autumn.

Write about what it is like where you live; where you once lived; how it was when you were away on active duty somewhere and what thoughts came to mind.

Make an effort this year to touch autumn. Do a pumpkin, bob for an apple, watch the sky changes, thank a tree for the shade it provided you over the summer.

Make an effort this year to let autumn touch you; it will if you let it.

Ah, and one last remembrance. How many of you are old enough to recall when the grownups moved the cars off the streets, raked the leaves into it, and set them a fire. Do you remember the scent of burning leaves?

Let the memories ramble like I did here in my Pastiche

Apple tasting now from the trees of New Jersey 'pick it yourself ' orchards in the mid-October sun. Apple tartness, sweetness, floating in the sun heated air and there, of a sudden, is Mrs. B's dining room from fifty years ago filled with children in Halloween costumes slurping up her warmed, cinammoned cider. She was a working woman then, only seen going in the morning, coming back at dinnertime but always available to the thirsty neighborhood young that one special night each year, before treats had to be checked for razors and drugs. Did any of them ever say Thank you? She was sure they did. They were trained to.
But somehow Serena felt Mrs. B. heard more the whispered thank you of young happy bellies.

Write. Share your words if only with yourself, and be peace.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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