It was a glorious autumn. October is officially closed. But boy it was a good one. The color came amidst late sunshine and stayed and stayed. Each weekend grew more glorious as the red and orange flamed out and surrounded us. The late warmth kept it around, and no wind storms stole it away early. Amazing. There were days driving around when the whole world looked just like a postcard. Vermont is at her best in October, when she lifts her skirts and puts on a bawdy show amidst smells of woodsmoke and apple. These are the kinds of days that make people want to cash in their 401Ks. The colors roll down the mountains in waves. It is enough to make you want to buy a country store and court bankruptcy selling licorice whips.
The chickens are molting and getting fluffy new coats in preparation for winter. Just now they are rooting around my feet. The dogs just got bathed and are drying in the grass. Even the house looks particularly beautiful with it’s new paint job shining in all this late surplus sun. After all those years of complaining about summers in St. Louis this makes me feel like I might be getting something I don’t deserve.
I get so excited at this time of year. Thanksgiving plans are in the works. Menus are being considered and the seasonal decorating has begun. I spent a couple Saturdays in October picking pumpkins for the Halloween and Thanksgiving displays. I lugged them all around the porches, first next to the mums, then back to the steps. They are now scattered prettily on the porches, bumpy and smooth, and big fat and round.
Pumpkins divide their owners. There are the pumpkin people who like the tall thinner gourds and the ones like me who want the fat round storybook kind. And there are also the ugly, bumpy reddish ones that seem like they belong in a scary story. I love watching the people who choose those. I saw two older women each choosing one of those, wearing sensible shoes, and silly grins. There are a whole bunch of old women like them up here. They have been through plenty of autumns, and seem always ready to enjoy an extra summer day, or to begin making up the apple cider the better to enjoy the first windy, rainy, cold ones. Experience and a cheery attitude have taught them to be glad for whatever Vermont brings them. I want to be like them, and not the others who complain about the heat and then argue with the snow.
So I too grabbed a couple of those particularly ugly, bumpy, red, fat misshapen ones. They added color and a spooky feel to the pile. The tall ones always seem to go home as singles, standing lone sentry on the porch next to the single perfect pot of mums. Their porches are swept every day and they last way past Halloween. I passed them by knowing that their proper homes would be picking them up. The fat ones all seemed to go home in bunches, destined for messy carvings, and seed roasting.
Like a pumpkin gypsy I carried home a couple dozen in many sizes. Some climb the stairs to the porch and others stack and lean in a lovely autumnal still life. Leaves scatter around the porch, and I conjure a florist scattering them in just this way for an autumnal wedding.
This morning we woke up to frost on those pumpkins Now the procrastinators are all making appointments to get that boiler and the chimneys cleaned. Like the squirrels we are hurrying to empty the hoses, and scrub the chicken house. We are cleaning out the attic so we can find the gloves and hats and figure out how many actually still have their match and who needs what. In the last few Vermont years checking the longjohns has become part of our fall ritual. The ripped silk doesn’t work too well and everybody brings out their old pairs and lists are made of who needs what. It’s a good excuse to get the closets cleaned and bags are filled with old clothes for the local pantry.
Tonight we’ll carry the wood up and have ourselves a fire and open the winter wine. I will try to stay thankful for this October and not worry to much about whatever might come next….
Pumpkins have never been my thing–unless you count their lying on a bed of pastry, covered with whipped cream! But if I were to want to surround my house with pumpkins, I would like the odd ones too.