Childhood Memory of Autumn... by anahata.c ()
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I hope this isn't too flowery. A memory of autumn, from childhood...
When I was a child, we moved to a far-north town near Chicago: It was on the edge of the world, it seemed; it still had open prairie fields, lots of dark forests, ravines, and moraines; and it was vast and primeval. If you've never seen the northern midwest, it's a huge, leafy, teeming place. Not the endless expanse of cornfields and wheatfields which so many people associate with it: Where I grew up, it was an opulent treasure chest of a place.
The rare gift of autumn is that it's cold, but lush. Cold but opulent: It was the combination that made it so special: You didn't expect cold to be lush: You expected it to be bleak and desolate. But in autumn, it blazed. The colors blazed. The trees wore diadems. And the fragrance---from leaves on the ground and the sweetness of the earth as it heaved its last moist breath before winter set-in---was from heaven. As if someone came down and graced us with perfumes and lightshows: Nature put on a last spectacular show before it went into hibernation...
You have to know: The upper midwest, in those days---ie, before global warming---was cold 8 months out of the year. Summer was a 'break', not the norm. Once September was over, the temperatures dropped to near-freezing at night, and they stayed that way until May.
Yet, the canopies of those lush and beauteous trees were like big, hugging arms watching over you, protecting you. And the rustle beneath your feet---from leaves, stems, acorns---was music. The streets in those old shaggy neighborhoods twisted and turned, and gave all kinds of mystery-vistas, hidden coves and alleyways. When you walked through people's yards---to get to school---you'd pass pear trees, apple trees, grape vines, all of it. We had them in our backyard. In autumn, the fruit rotted and fell, creating colorful 'rainfalls' of decay. They smelled sweet; and they added to the cornucopia that blanketed the earth for weeks. And burning leaves---then common---saturated the air with a pungent, sweet-stinging fragrance; the perfumes of autumn were everywhere.
As fall waned, the ground became a carpet of leaves, and the light changed forever. November light was silver; cool and sterling silver. It was mournful and beautiful. The trees were bare by mid November; and, instead of seeing lush 'hairdos' in the trees, you now saw the bony remnants, the skeletons of nature; and you felt nature was exposing its foundations, spare, naked and harsh. The branches were now like the bony hands of ancestors, rustling along the skies, grasping for something long-gone. We thought they were telling secrets. And the carpet of leaves were now plush. Everything transferred to the earth, soon to be reclaimed as winter slowly crept in.
And the ravines were little canyons carved out by the last ice age. Little finger-grooves. They only descended about 30 feet, but they were majestic and intimate, as they tunneled alongside homes with their bony streams and unique ecologies (with animals, insects and plants that only lived in those spaces).
When you crawled down inside them, you landed in this deep echo chamber, surrounded by bony brush (which you invariably cut yourself on, as you crawled through its mazes to get to the bottom). And you lay there in silence, untouched by the world...You could see the smoke curling out of chimneys, up above; but in the ravine, the air was thick, like a quilt; and you felt immensely protected.
As the night came, it unearthed the music of these tiny kingdoms: Creaking, rustlings, snapping of branches, the crunchy sounds of animals scuttling their way through the rubble to find food or shelter. And the deep impenetrable thickness of silence.
A few weeks later, the streams would become mausoleums---with leaves and branches, even animals, frozen to death in the now-solid ice that covered them. A museum display under glass...And, every so often, you'd hear the creak of ice breaking downstream, a little water still running: It too would freeze very soon...
One night, I got lost, and landed in one of those untouched prairie fields: With grasses higher than humans, and so thick you couldn't get through them without a knife, it was impenetrable. I thought: I'm lost. I'll never get home. But in this late fall cold, it crackled in the wind---the glorious ancient grasses doing their private cantatas, filling the air with starched and desiccated bamboo-like cracklings, as the frigid winds settled in for the night. I stumbled and groped, cutting myself several times, until I came out the other side---feeling sad that this grass would soon be gone. A last patch of what was once a vast expanse of the mightiest, most primal grasses in the world.
I walked home. Fall would soon be over, the shows would soon be over. But they were some of the sweetest memories of my life.
Some memories of autumn, from my childhood...
Artwork Comments (17)
helanker () 5:32AM | Mon, 07 November 2016
Mark, this is such a wonderful memory to have in your mind. A memory of a pure awe, from what you saw and experienced all by yourself. An awe, you will never feel so pure in your adult life, but you will treasure it, keep it in your heart, as long as you live, because it was the cleanest feeling of happiness, you will never find again. This is a lovely and sweet story og feelings, I recognize from my own childhood, which I also treasure. Thank you for sharing this. :)
Faemike55 () 9:33AM | Mon, 07 November 2016
I could smell the leaves and earth as I read this; I could feel the biting cold of the winds - such great writing and descriptions
anaber () 5:54PM | Mon, 07 November 2016
Mark, your depiction is complete and perfect ! You could heard and feel the depths of the Nature, in its unstoppable development and transformation and in its all beauty and reality . So much purity and so much peace in this uninterrupted movement. I almost could feel there. This memory of your childhood is a fantastic experience of love and freedom. Intense and thoughtful. A great treasure inside you, to stay forever.. Thank you very much for sharing this remembrance.
blondeblurr () 6:29PM | Mon, 07 November 2016
So very well told Mark, you are a master with words, soft and quietly spoken/written - I envisaged the whole scenario so clearly in my mind, while reading this story, even-so I had never experienced a Mid Western prairie field and blazing colours, I could follow your Autumn story easily, 'eine besinnliche Zeit', for young an old... The Autumn of our years, and I like to add some of the lyrics of the Frank Sinatra song:
But now the days are short, I'm in the autumn of the years
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year...
goodoleboy () 8:02PM | Mon, 07 November 2016
Essentially, all the above Mark. You presented a splendid poignant tableau above in your all consuming opus. That said, I can't identify with what you wrote, because I don't remember any autumns living down here in Southern California, I can only imagine and fantasize about what might be. In contrast to most of the country, we have only one season.....a never ending summer.
wysiwig () 12:55AM | Tue, 08 November 2016
A tale full of imagery and memory. Very evocative, it triggered memories from my own childhood. From the age of nine through thirteen we moved four times always landing near the edge of civilization. So there were always open spaces to play in. Climbing eucalyptus trees, eating almonds right off the bush, exploring caves and, in the winter, eating icicles and shoveling the driveway. My last winter in New York was so cold it made my eyes water and then the tear drops froze on my glasses. I haven't thought about any of that for years. A wonderful story. Thanks for the memories.
Freethinker56 () 4:20AM | Tue, 08 November 2016
WOW! truly wonderful memories and so beautifully written Bravo!
bakapo () 12:53PM | Tue, 08 November 2016
thank you, Mark, for letting me see what the world has to offer through different eyes. thank you for opening my eyes again to the beauty that surrounds me. I have gotten so over-worked and over-stressed lately that I rarely SEE things any more. there are still some leaves on the trees, here, I should take a walk... your wonderful story will fill my mind and heart for quite a while.
RodS () 9:29PM | Tue, 08 November 2016
Oh, what delightful memories - you paint a masterpiece with words, Mark. How I miss those wonderful days. You allowed me to relive them with a smile - and maybe a tear - as I walked along with you in my imagination. So beautiful, my friend!
auntietk () 7:47AM | Fri, 11 November 2016
I know what Jock means, but the image is right there. It's in every line, every word. I can see the trees, see the light change, feel the cold, hear the ice crack. This is a fully sensory piece, brimming with the kind of evocative detail that makes memory come alive. It's beautifully done.
X-PaX () 11:26AM | Sat, 12 November 2016
Very nice story Mark.
The only thing that disturbed the beautiful idyll are the foliage blowers.
Richardphotos () 9:07AM | Sun, 13 November 2016
outstanding writing and memories. I often thought I should have bought my childhood home, but it would only be an empty lot with my mother gone
MrsRatbag () 8:46PM | Fri, 16 December 2016
I remember how everything just seemed ... MORE ... in my childhood. Summers lasted forever and winters were the most brittle cold (yes, even in southern California--we had to wear coats for Christmas caroling, that was really something for us!) So much has shrunk in power as I've aged, but I've learned to feel the magic elsewhere. I envy you growing up where you did, as I envied my Minnesota and Chicago cousins; it's given you poetry and soul and visions not granted to the average person. Wonderfully engrossing story, Mark!