“Goldenrod Whispering Goodbye” & Squirrels Eating Pumpkins

Sandra Neily here:

From my deck, all of us quietly watch fall arrive

It’s late fall and while I’ve written this season into my novels, today I’m inviting (virtually) two other supremely talented writers to share “fall” in inspired words.

Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come – six, a dozen – to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

by Mary Oliver


And if you have not found Margaret Renkl, here she is. I love her two latest fall season columns. (Excerpted below.)

Margaret Renkl is the author of “Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss” (Milkweed Editions, 2019) and “Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South” (Milkweed Editions, 2021). Since 2017, she has been a contributing Opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear each Monday. A graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina, she lives in Nashville.

Listen to a good interview, here.

Opinion | What Climate Change Does to My October Garden – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

“… But pleasure in the natural world must always be these days, for the seasons have gone completely haywire. By the time the butterflies finally arrived here, the fall wildflowers were mostly gone. In my yard, ironweed came and went, snakeroot came and went, Carolina elephants-foot and blue mistflower and sicklepods, too, are now all bloomed out.

A tiny bird enjoys a fading flower’s seeds

The asters are just coming into their own, though, and the goldenrod is still exploding in plumes of yellow extravagance, though they won’t last indefinitely. I generally let my zinnias go to seed to feed the birds, but this year I’ve taken to deadheading the spent flowers, forcing the plants to make new blooms for the butterflies. I’ve made a vow to plant more zinnias next year.

The monarch caterpillar I brought home emerged safely from her chrysalis — a perfect female. After her wings were dry, I carried the butterfly cage out to the pollinator garden and unzipped it. She flew straight to a stand of New England asters, a wonderful native plant that will keep making new flowers until the first frost. As with all my perennials, I will leave the blasted plants standing all winter, for their seeds will feed the birds, and their hollow stems will make a safe place for overwintering insects to take shelter from the cold. …”

Opinion | I Am in Love With Flowers That Are Ruined – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

“…It requires some effort, I admit, to glory in the powdery mildew. Beholding the worn-out garden, I ponder what good could come of this unsung artist of low-growing leaves. Which wild neighbors does it help? Then I remember that powdery mildew is a banquet for ladybugs. Studying the pumpkin leaves dusted with a patina of false frost, suddenly I remember to give thanks for something so utterly unexpected in this burning summer of a burning millennium: the grace of sufficient rain.

The orange pumpkins themselves have seen better days, but still I offer my heart to what’s left of the pumpkins carved out by squirrels. I offer my whole heart to the thick, pulpy flesh that fattens the chipmunks before their time of hunger. Long before winter, that fantasy of a season so distant in this heat, my collapsing pumpkins are fattening up the foxes and the opossums, the skunks and the raccoons. And now the spilled pumpkin seeds are drying in the sun, waiting to feed everybody else. …”

Sandy’s debut novel, “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine” won a national Mystery Writers of America award, was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, and was a finalist for a Maine Literary Award. The second Mystery in Maine, “Deadly Turn,” was published in 2021. Her third “Deadly” is due out in 2023. Find her novels at all Shermans Books (Maine) and on Amazon. Find more info on Sandy’s website.

About Sandra Neily

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass” received a Mystery Writers of America award, was named a national finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, a finalist in the Mslexia international novel competition, a runner- up in Maine’s Joy of the Pen competition, and recently, an international SPR fiction finalist. Sandy lives in the woods of Maine and says she’d rather be “fly fishing cold streams, skiing remote trails, paddling near loons, or just generally out there—unless I’m sharing vanishing worlds with my readers. "
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4 Responses to “Goldenrod Whispering Goodbye” & Squirrels Eating Pumpkins

  1. John Clark says:

    Fall is my favorite season. Dampness makes the woods sound and feel like I’m walking on a giant carpet, mushrooms abound and the hypnotic act of a falling leaf never ceases to catch my eye. I’m particularly fascinated by ones that drop gently into a stream, allowing me to imagine their upcoming journey. I’ll be in the woods at Sennebec Hill Farm today, clearing a trail and filling my spirit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ahhhh, John. That was so soft and sweet and gentle. Thank YOU! I join you in watching that one leaf touch the stream but with your help I will do more imagining as it floats away.

  2. I do love Mary Oliver. Reading a book of her essays right now. And Margaret. I have Late Migrations in my TBR pile, left for me by a houseguest this summer. I envision putting my gardens to bed and then curling up and reading all winter long. It won’t happen. There are books to be written and organizational duties to be fulfilled but it is a wonderful dream.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh Kate, Yes, I thought of you and your garden as I pushed the “schedule” link. And hoped you’d like it. Am going to get her next book “The Comfort of Crows, a Backyard Year.” Takes us through an entire year in her garden and, of course, her feelings about how to love nature despite the larger losses……Thanks!

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