descriptions of commonplace things

“October” by Willard Metcalf

Back in March, when I was sorting through the boxes of family stuff, I found the following undated, typewritten account of a lovely October day Tim’s great-grandparents spent together many years ago. Charles Amos Hamilton (1866-1943) wrote it for his wife, Gertrude Mabel Hubbard (1874-1965). They lived in Batavia, New York.

AN OCTOBER DAY

Written for the delectation of my good wife, Gertrude, who delights in reading descriptions of commonplace things, written in rather grandiloquent language.


The poet wrote,
“What is so rare as a day in June,
Then, if ever, come perfect days.”

Without questioning the judgment or belittling the taste of the writer of this couplet, I make the assertion that, with equal or even greater veracity, it might have been written with the substitution of “October” for “June.” For, in old October, Nature gives us examples of a brilliance of coloring, and a tang of ozone, which June, for meteorological reasons, cannot duplicate.

I arise on a bright October morning and raise the shades of my bedroom window. What a riot of all the hues of the rainbow meet my eyes. From the pale green of maple leaves not yet touched by autumn’s frosty fingers, up through the entire gamut of the spectrum, to the vivid scarlet of maples of a different species. As the leaves rustle in the light breeze, they seem to be whispering “Goodbye” to their companions of the departed summer. The dark green limbs of the evergreens nearer the house, stand out like sentinels, bravely daring the blasts of the coming winter. The sunlight lies in little pools in the verdancy of the lawn, dotted here and there by vagrant leaves which have thus early abandoned the protection of their parent branch. The clump of spireas, which last June resembled a snow-bank, now has the appearance of a cluster of shrubs, which in the serene consciousness of a duty well done, are now nestling quietly and unobtrusively together. A belated hollyhock, and a few sturdy petunias, render an additional dash of color. Glancing from the the rear window, I behold the majestic line of cedars, bowing gently before the breeze, but standing with all the dignity of a line of knights in full armor. The row of sweet alyssum shows the same white purity it has maintained for several months. Two scarlet rose-buds, with youthful optimism, raise their heads fearlessly to the autumnal skies, disregarding the improbability of their ever being able to attain maturity.

Later in the day, we take a drive in our Buick, through the farm lands of the vicinity. The same magnificent coloring marks the foliage everywhere, outdoing the most artistic efforts of the painter’s brush. Huge stacks of golden straw stand beside the farmer’s barns, testifying to the repleteness of the barns with fodder for the stock. We know without inspection, that the cellars are well filled with fruits and vegetables, destined to adorn many a well-filled table, and to furnish apples and pop-corn for groups of merry young people. In the fields, the sheep are quietly nibbling, already comfortably clad in their winter woolens. The cows are lying placidly chewing the rumen of contentment. Everything denotes peace, harmony and plenty. Occasionally, a vagrant leaf flutters down momentarily upon the hood of the car, then, as if disdaining its warmth, flutters away to joining its companions by the roadside.

In the evening, fortified by an excellent dinner, maybe washed down by a flagon of “Old October ale,” we sit by the bright flame of our fireplace, and as we listen to the occasional snap of the apple-tree wood, and watch the sparks seek freedom via the chimney, we feel that “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world.” Yes, what is so rare as a day in October?

autumn arrives

9.22.19 ~ oak leaves and acorns ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The morns are meeker than they were —
The nuts are getting brown —
The berry’s cheek is plumper —
The Rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf —
The field a scarlet gown —
Lest I sh’d be old fashioned
I’ll put a trinket on.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #32)

Colorful Homes in Miss Florence’s Gardens

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

A few more fairy tale birdhouses at the Florence Griswold Museum…

#49. “Fun Galore on the Top Floor” by Barbara Stevens & Barbara O’Connell, based on Eloise at the Plaza. I was not familiar with this story so Janet filled me in. Later, on Netflix streaming, I found and watched Eloise’s Rawther Unusual Halloween

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

#35. “A Sweet Piece of Real Estate” by Robert Nielsen & Billie Tannen, based on Hansel & Gretel. This creation was made of clay – amazing!

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

#23. “Home Sweet Dome” by Sandy Garvin, based on Aladdin & The Magic Lamp. Can you find the tiny magic lamp?

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Not to be outdone by human creations, Mother Nature’s flower show was held over for a few extra weeks…

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.26.11 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

man postpones or remembers

“Roses Fancy Still Life” by Robert Scott Duncanson
“Roses Fancy Still Life” by Robert Scott Duncanson

These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time in them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present above time.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Self-Reliance)

The Tempest

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

Twenty years ago, in July of 1991, The Colonial Theater of  Westerly, Rhode Island, began presenting its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My mother had died only a few weeks earlier, and after seeing an article in the newspaper about the free performances, Tim & I decided we should go. We loved every minute of it, cuddled under the stars in our beach chairs on the lawn of beautiful Wilcox Park. Seeing these plays became one of the highlights of our year, a dearly loved tradition.

For the 15th season, in 2005, the theater presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream again, much to our delight! And I loved these words found in the program that year:

The mix of illusion and reality that runs through the play is also a particularly relevant theme at this time. For this is at the heart of what we do each year. With your participation, we visit people and worlds where the normal, earthbound laws of physics no longer apply. … Not only is the play filled throughout with the imagery of dreams, but Puck even addresses the audience at the play’s close with the advice that if they’ve not been pleased with what they’ve seen, they should just tell themselves that they’ve been dreaming, and will wake up with nothing lost. And what’s to say that we haven’t been dreaming while this parade of characters has performed across the stretch of our imagination?
~ Harland Meltzer, Producing Artistic Director, Colonial Theater

Over the years we’ve been to almost every play, except for the few times there was no play due to lack of funding. It’s free, but the theater counts on donations to make it each year. Besides making donations ourselves, Tim buys a coffee cup each year and as you imagine, has a large collection now.

TheTempest2011
“The Tempest” ~ summer 2011 ~ Wilcox Park, Westerly, Rhode Island

This year the play chosen was The Tempest, which was put on for the second time, the first time being in 1992. After watching the weather report we decided that Wednesday was the best night to catch it. We went early in the afternoon to stake out our spot, and then returned in the evening, found a good parking spot, walked to a restaurant for dinner and then walked back to the park for the play. Even though I had my exercise ball to sit on, perhaps all the walking and sitting in the restaurant had taken its toll because I was uncomfortable almost immediately. And Tim was not feeling well due to moving around in the heat and humidity – it’s hard on his heart. Both of us sat there miserably until the intermission, wondering if the other would mind leaving early, something we had never ever done before. When intermission came we took one look at each other and knew with very little verbal communication how things stood. We quietly gathered up our things and left…

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

For future reference I’m listing all of Shakespeare’s plays we’ve seen by this theater group at Wilcox Park:

1991 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1992 – Tempest
1993 – As You Like It
1996 – Romeo & Juliet
1996 – Julius Caesar (performed by the visiting Anglian Open Air Shakespeare Company)
1997 – Twelfth Night
1998 – Othello
1999 – Taming of the Shrew
2000 – Henry IV, Part I
2001 – Hamlet
2003 – Merchant of Venice
2004 – Much Ado About Nothing
2005 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2006 – Romeo & Juliet
2008 – As You Like It
2009 – Two Gentlemen of Verona
2011 – Tempest (until intermission)

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

a thorn in the foot

rose thorns by Xosema
rose thorns by Xosema

I went to the hill and I got it.
I sat on a knoll and I sought it.
And if I would get it I would leave it.
Since I did not get it, I took it with me.
~ Scots Gaelic Riddle
(The Celtic Spirit)

As I sat down very gingerly on the chair for my breakfast this morning, I opened my Caitlín Matthews book of daily meditations for the turning of the year. As I started to read I began to smile over the synchronicity I found there in her words as she elaborated on the riddle above. A thorn in the foot, an irritation. A thorn in the foot that hurts when one walks on it. Pains in my back and my legs when I sit.

There is no surefire way to avoid irritations, no magic formula that will ease them out of our way. They arrive without warning to plague us, and we have to get on and deal with them. Some of the tiresomeness can be alleviated, however, if we see many of our irritations are reminders of neglected areas of our life. … The universe has its own way of getting our attention and making us attend to what is important.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit)

Well, this bout of sciatica has certainly got my attention!!! Yesterday I wound up puttering around the house catching up on little chores and the constant movement kept the pain at bay. But when I sat down for lunch the pain returned and so for the afternoon I reclined and listened to three more Adyashanti CDs, which nourished me spiritually.

No magic formula, but an idea occurred to me while lying there to help me deal with this “irritation.” I dug my old exercise ball out of the closet and Tim pumped it up with air for me. We tested having me sit on it for a few minutes. No pain. He moved my laptop down here to the coffee table and this set up seems like it might just work!

This has been a painful reminder to me to pay more attention to how long I sit in front of the computer screen. I tend to have these marathon days where I visit a lot of blogs and catch up responding to comments on mine. On top of that, as the day wears on, as it did Saturday, my posture gets more and more sloppy and as a result the nerve gets irritated. If I’m honest with myself, most of these flare-ups occur after I’ve sat too long and incorrectly, usually during a long trip in the car…

Do you have a figurative thorn in your foot? What do you do to deal with it?