Photography by Ryan Smith
I am no longer in the region of glowing Autumns. Yet, just recently visiting
the mountains of North Carolina my memory taste buds received enough to
stir my memoirs. Some of the photographs from there appear in this post. The
above was taken by my nephew who has inherited his grandmother's photography genes.
I have taken to bringing a little red notebook with me on trips. I write when
the spirit moves me. I absorbed the ghosts of the autumns from my childhood while in the mountains this year. The ghosts were benign and kind and spoke to me of misty autumns.
Now, in these November days even in the
South the crickets have an autumn sound waking my long gone
the feel of gardens entering their winter slumber. Are we meant during the days of autumn to go into some quiet protected place as well? Those of us who were fortunate enough to live back in another time may well feel that we are called to do just that.
"The magic of Autumn has seized the countryside; now that the sun
is not ripening anything it shines for the sake of the golden age, for
the sake of Eden, to please the moon for all I know."
Autumn in the Village where I spent my childhood was a magic season. It entered the turning paths of our imagination where we found myth and possibility. There was enough silence in the Falls of my childhood that the drying leaves played by the wind created a scintillating sound that was a music unlike any other. The pines plucked their needles to
produce their own lullaby, especially right outside a child's window.
The child's imagination could be slowly nurtured by the night wind rattling old
wooden sashed windows and gently nurtured by shadows of big trees in the backyard.
As children we collected the bright leaves, ecstatic in their dying.
They were used for collage, for tracing and then coloring, for
dry bouquets for our mothers.
Sweaters and jackets kept us swathed in the scent of mothballs where
they had been hidden all summer.
We began to nestle into our dreams of paths yet to come.
Nothing like shushing one's feet through dry leaves on the way
home from school to nudge such dreams. They gathered in great piles
against old tall wooden fences waiting for a child
to plunge into them with laughing glee.
The elegance of autumn in New England. Color upon color reaching high, like a dowager in her finest garb. A last hoorah! The leaves must touch each other to play their Fall song. Many softly let themselves join Mother Earth. Mellowed and wizened they gracefully slip silently to sleep.
Even back in my childhood Autumn held its own traditions. It held the promise of Halloween. It made you hold your breath passing by a cemetery, expecting to see the Headless Horseman come galloping through. The violence of today's video games and movies were not around to stifle our imaginings. Even before us, poets like Robert Frost had created poems that nurtured our childhood creativity. There was silence abounding to let all of that pass through. Cell phone were way in the future and everything let us be.
The creativity of the Autumn palate. The creativity of Halloween and how we were part of it. Simply a part of it. The safety of the Village on the eve of Halloween. A gaggle of children slowly processing from house to house. Hooted Trick or Treats (never a trick...) and giggles upon giggles as we spied who some masked child really was. The fained surprise of the adults greeting us at each house. All the porch lights were lit to welcome each and all.
Innocence wrapped in the colors of Autumn. Costumes were patched together with our own old clothes or that of our parents. Black mascara worked wonders. We were who our imaginations wished us to be and we acted accordingly. A bedsheets with eyes cut out was perfect. An old mop made a wig for a witch, Cardboard was always helpful. Pillow cases made the bags for the candy we collected. An old soft hat of our dad's pulled down over a cheap paper mask, one of his jackets so big on a little boy that the sleeves dragged along the ground.
Autumn is a time to wrap oneself up in the memories of a childhood in the 50's hiding oneself from the noise and anger of the world around us. Values were clear back then, like the shine of red leaves and the gift of an apple from a neighbor on Halloween Eve. How blessed those who can go back and pull out friendships and trust their remembering.
Milkweed in Autumn
photography by my mother
Angelina Motta Souza