24NOV2021 – Another Autumn Poem

Autumn

I love the fitful gust that shakes
The casement all the day
And from the mossy elm tree takes
The faded leaf away
Twirling it by the window-pane
With thousand others down the lane

I love to see the shaking twig
Dance till the shut of eve
The sparrow on the cottage rig
Whose chirp would make believe
That spring was just now flirting by
In summers lap with flowers to lie

I love to see the cottage smoke
Curl upwards through the naked trees
The pigeons nestled round the coat
On dull November days like these
The cock upon the dung-hill crowing
The mill sails on the heath a-going

The feather from the ravens breast
Falls on the stubble lea
The acorns near the old crows nest
Fall pattering down the tree
The grunting pigs that wait for all
Scramble and hurry where they fall

John Clare

 

19NOV2021 – Another Autumn Poem

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare

A Golden November Day

Sun with no clouds, sixty-three degrees and a light breeze.  Well, you can’t stay in on a day like that.  Camera Girl and I took a walk in the woods today.  We haven’t since September.  It was quiet.  Then we saw why.  The streams that came off of the big lake had dried up.  The spillway from the lake was dry.  November hasn’t been completely without rain but the number of heavy rain days has drastically lowered from previous months.  So, it was quiet and that was fine.  Sun filtered more easily through the trees with only the conifers green.  We talked about the menu for Thanksgiving and we talked about leaves to be raked.  We noticed that none of the few people in the forest we met wore masks and I said that was a good sign.  She told me that very few people in the supermarket wore masks and most of those were elderly.  And I said that sounds good.  But before we knew it we were back at the car.  Just a short hour’s walk, up and down a few hills in the woods.  But it was a fitting tribute to God for gifting us a day this bright and warm, a week before Thanksgiving in New England.

 

AUTUMN (by Aleksandr Pushkin) (translated by Peter France)

A mournful time of year! Its sad enchantment

flatters my vision with a parting grace –

I love the sumptuous glow of fading nature,

the forests clad in crimson and in gold,

the shady coolness and the wind’s dull roaring,

the heavens all shrouded in a billowing mist

and the rare gleams of sun, the early hoarfrosts,

and distant grey-beard winter’s gloomy portents.

Aleksandr Pushkin (translated by Peter France)

15NOV2021 – OCF Update

 

Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm F\4 Macro lens

 

“The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;”

From “Ulalume” by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

I took a walk around to see if there were any photos to be had. And there were a few.  Mostly trees holding onto a precious few dead leaves.  And the sky and the leaves reminded me of those lines from Poe.  And looking it up I noted that Poe was only forty years old when he died.  Well, he was a very strange man with many problems.  But he did capture some very vivid imagery in some of his work.  And late fall is his special time of year.  October, November and December seem to be the time and mood of his prose and poetry.  Maybe Poe could qualify as one of Ray Bradbury’s “October People.”

Autumn is a very good time of the year to be in a warm house and sharing good food and good talk with friends and family.  And Thanksgiving is sneaking up on us so I checked up on Camera Girl’s holiday planning and indeed she assures me that a twenty five pound turkey will be included and that ample and various pies and other desserts will appear on the menu, so everything seems to be in order.

She informed me that Walmart has begun playing Christmas music outside the building.  Apparently broadcasting it will attract holiday shoppers by some sort of sympathetic vibration.  I asked her if the music put her in the holiday spirit and she rolled her eyes at me.  Despite her clear lack of spirit I will be starting my annual Christmas music marathon very soon.  The centerpiece of this program is the album that my parents used to play when I was about ten, “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Harry Simeone Chorale.  When I hear those versions sung I might as well be ten years old again.  For a little while I can forget the horrors of the world around us and bask in the old remembered warmth of being a kid in Real America.

Autumnal Mood

Sony A7 III, Sony 35mm F\1.4

The first day of fall in 2021 is on Wednesday, September 22 at 3.21pm EDT.  Fall is the dying season.  You see it in the leaves changing color and falling to the ground.  You hear it in the desperate chirping of the crickets as they cling to warmth under stones and leaf mold.  You can smell it in the air as the dying leaves begin to decay.  And you can feel it in your head as the air begins to cool and dry out.  And for the old folks you can feel it in your old bones as cold begins to tighten your muscles and tendons.

There will be many beautiful days in September, October and November.  But summer is over and it will impact the way I feel and what I do.  Many people love fall best.  I can understand that.  Many detest the heat of summer.  Especially those living in the deep south.  For them the end of summer is a release from brutal heat and humidity.  But even in southern New England fall is just a prelude from the equally brutal reality of snow and cold.

But the good thing about Autumn is the longer nights.  For someone who spends a lot of time writing, the darkness is the right time to write.  The quiet and darkness of night isn’t interrupted by distracting sights and sounds.  In summer I am often tempted to drop what I’m working on and go out into the world and luxuriate in the heat and light and color and smell of the flowers.  So that’s the bad thing about Autumn.  For a photographer there is the fall foliage and that’s about it.  The butterflies and the dragonflies and the hummingbirds are gone.  In fact, most of the birds disappear.  Hopefully I might see some turkeys but mostly all I’ll hear is the wind and the water.

To compensate we get together with friends and family to celebrate another year and compare notes on children, grandchildren and milestones.  Hopefully we are mostly over the lockdown nonsense.  I would hate to think we have to spend another holiday season in isolation.  That would be a crime.

So, the change of season finds me subdued but not depressed.  There are some hopeful signs out in the political world.  Even the fake news admits that Biden’s job approval rating is underwater and bound to go lower.  A few men have shown some backbone, DeSantis and Abbott.  The mood on the real Right is quietly defiant.  We know we’re in a bad place but at least we aren’t being led by traitors and idiots.  We see what is going on around us with dismay but we are waiting to see if anyone will step forward and do something meaningful.  I’d say we’re being realistic.

Okay, enough gloom and doom.  On the bright side Camera Girl will be cooking and baking splendiferous foods.  Cakes and pies, soups and stews, roasts and sausages.  Everything that makes eating fun.  And of course, classic horror movies to celebrate Halloween.  So, bring it on, bring it on, bring it on.  Autumn here we come.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – Autumn Memories – Part 3

Wild turkey has a flavor totally unlike domestic turkey. They feed on insects, acorns and other goodies. Just as wild rabbit tastes better, in my opinion that tame rabbit. When mom was laid up in hospital one year before Christmas, I went up to dad’s and cleaned and cooked for him. My own dear wife had passed on by then. I took up three squirrels I had shot and the first meal I made for him was mashed sweet potatoes covered with squirrel gravy. Sauté the squirrels in a cast iron pan in butter until the meat falls from the bones. Then keep cooking it until the butter browned, add the flour and brown the resulting roux, then put in the milk and make gravy. He ate so much I thought he’d choke. Mom had been sick for weeks before her hospitalization so they had been eating mostly carry out or delivery fast food. Dad would only eat so much fast food before he just stopped eating. I also made him some pie crust cookies. He liked it so much we had leftover squirrel gravy and biscuits for the next two breakfasts

 

I made pork tenderloin fried in that cast iron skillet, baked him an apple pie after making the pie filling in the skillet (par cooking the filling means less liquid to ruin the crust). and then as a Christmas present, I bought them one of those spiral-sliced honey hams. I took most of the meat off it and we had ham for breakfast most mornings, and I froze a lot. Then I took the bone and the meat off the bone and put it in a pot of beans and put it in the oven for 6 hours on low. Hot damn, was it good. Made cornbread to go with it. When mom came home and was able to take over her own household again dad tried to get me to stay a little longer and cook. Mom was a great cook, but she insisted dad needed healthy food at his age. I just fed his belly with what he liked as a child.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – Autumn Memories – Part 2

There’s nothing like a home smoked ham, is there? Uncle Dana liked his bacon. Autumn also meant that Grandma opened up the first of the bread and butter pickles she had put up the year before. Absolutely delicious. She always allowed them to sit a year in the dark root cellar before she served them to let the flavors mingle. Autumn was also the season for putting up apples and pears in jars. You make simple syrup and leave it plain, or add cinnamon or mint (makes the jars ruby red or emerald green). They have to sit for at least a year. Grandma (and my mom) also made jars of pie filling. Apple, peach, apricot, mixed berries. strawberries with rhubarb, pumpkin and sweet potato. That way you had filling ready for making pies after they were in season. Both my grandfathers were partial to grilled tenderloin or fish tail sandwiches and autumn was the time to eat them as the tenderloin was fresh from the hog slaughter. Us boys would make a weekend trip to Lake Erie and catch a mess of perch and walleye and we’d have a big family fish fry. The catfish we had was locally caught. Perch, walleye, catfish and crappie were the staples. If we were lucky the white bass would run in the local creek and we could bag a mess of them, too.

Fresh game was good, Rabbits, pheasant, quail, grouse, duck, Canada geese and deer. Me and my brother still make our own venison summer sausage.

Aye, we had good times, didn’t we?

Guest Contributor – Jason M – Autumn Memories

Memories around autumn. The most common thread was the presence of extended family.

We didn’t raise tobacco, but my grandfather leased fields to a man that did. I got my taste of pulling tobacco as a young child and got a few bucks as a reward. I was too young to do much, but getting those few dollars meant the world to me. Every now and then you’d see one of the laborers take a leaf straight off the plant, cut it up and share it with his buddies. They’d roll the leaf right there and smoke it like a cigarette.

When I was older and soccer practice began in mid to late summer, we’d run anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 miles as a team before practice. The entire run was surrounded by tobacco fields and I still remember the aroma. That farm is still in business some 28 years later. They’re still growing tobacco, soy beans and milo depending on the crop rotation.

Fall meant festivals and pork BBQ of any variety you could imagine. My school had a fall festival each year and they smoked hundreds of pounds of hams over hickory wood and sold plates to local businesses all night long for the 3rd shift workers, and to the festival-goers the next day.

It meant Saturdays with the cousins trying to knock each other off of rolling barrels while our parents made furniture to sell at the fall festival.

Fall meant dove hunting, squirrel hunting and deer hunting were all in full effect. You’d wake up to the sound of shotguns in the field next your house every Saturday… that is, if you weren’t the one waking everyone else up at sunrise.

It meant playing in the hay loft and building forts out of the square bales. Or setting up obstacle courses to try and conquer to see who could do it the fastest.

It meant Halloween and candy and a party at the church near our house with all the younger kids in our area.

Man, I miss those simple times.

Seeing the world today is almost enough to make you weep. I read an article two days ago where the white author was proclaiming how racist it is for a white person to own a dog. He ended it by saying that all white people should give their dogs to POC or give them to the nearest no kill shelter.

What have I done to my children by bringing them into this world? I moved “back home” 18 months ago. We’ve built a house “on the farm.” I’d love for my kids to experience things like I did growing up. It beats Atlanta, that’s for sure, but they’ll never know those simple joys. I didn’t intend for this to be such a downer comment. Focus on the good parts.