Kate Flora: A thousand years ago, when I was in elementary school, we learned this poem by Nancy Byrd Turner for Halloween.
Everything is black and gold,
Black and gold, to-night:
Yellow pumpkins, yellow moon
Jet-black cats with golden eyes
Shadows black as ink,
Firelight blinking in the dark
With a yellow blink
Black and gold, black and gold
Nothing in between-
When the world turns black and gold
Then it’s Halloween!
The last stanza has stayed in my head ever since.
I was looking back at last Halloween, and realized that it had snowed and everything was blanketed with white.
This year, we were luckier, and that luck has carried on into November. Fall is a very busy season and I expect many of you are like me and have to force yourselves to slow down and take in the beauty of the last of the leaves, the gold of salt marshes, and the last garden flowers that refuse to quit. I may be writing this just to encourage you to do that. Slow down on your walks, look around, and see the colors around you.
Outside my window there is a gingko tree that was a leggy juvenile when we bought our house forty years ago. I have read that it has a long adolescence. Now it is a majestic giant. The tree has a particular quirk—on the day of the first frost, all of the leaves fall off. When the boys were young, it happened earlier, and we used to gather those fan-shaped golden leaves, stuff an old shirt and pants, pose them in a lawn chair with a pumpkin for a head and bean boots on its feet. Stick a hat on the pumpkins and voila! Pumpkin man. Great for a scary display on Halloween.
This year, the leaves are still clinging, slowly turning from green to pale gold to deep gold. I am waiting for the shower as they fall.
I don’t like November’s brown and gray, so I am trying to savor every day that it holds off. In the meantime, I am appreciating those plants that are still blooming in the garden. The anemones put on a fine show from mid-September to mid-October, as did the asters. Now, without any competition, masses of pale pink chrysanthemums are blooming. The hydrangea leaves and blooms are turning purple and pink. The tassels on the grasses are waving against the blue fall sky.
It’s true that I’m supposed to be inside. I have many books to read and I plan to try and do NaNoWriMo this month to finish my long-overdue Thea Kozak mystery. It’s hard to stay inside, though.
We writers have to pay attention to the seasons. In Chosen for Death, I set the story in the fall but wrote it in the spring, and was lucky to catch the problem of blooming azaleas in time to change them to chrysanthemums. I began my third Joe Burgess mystery, Redemption, in the fall, and watched Burgess stand on a hill on the Portland’s East End and gaze out over the stunning blue of a fall ocean. A plan for a picnic at Popham Beach was derailed by a body in the harbor. But I had to go to the beach for research, to see what he might have seen. The last sailboats of the season, white sails like blown tissues escaping from a box.
I may not like November, or December, and I particularly dislike February, but they are easier months to write in. I think. Maybe I should force myself outside more, and see what they have to offer.