You ever notice that some things are just right and good? For me, many of those things revolve around Autumn. The hazy heat of summer is passed, and with it the hard work. The cold, dry, bitter winds of winter are coming, but they have not yet pushed out the warm moistness of summer. So, the creeks and rivers and ponds, warm from the summer sun, gradually give back that warmth in spirals of mist to the colder air. The moisture in the air brings out the scents of Autumn. The leaves are turning, and bring with them a heavy scent. Take some time and go into the forest. Smell the trees and the leaves. Before long you will be able to identify 20 trees just by their scent.
In my ideal world, I would get up early on such a day. Step out on my porch and look across a small meadow. The blackberries on the edges have all been harvested, sitting comfortably in my cellar as jars of jam. The honey locust pods are turning hard, they and the persimmons will be ready to collect after a good hard frost. A doe and nearly mature fawn feed along the edge, but they are nervous.
Then I see why, a buck, readier for the rut than the doe, is trailing them. In a couple weeks her nervousness will turn to a demur look.
Along the creek the thistle heads are open, showing like white flowers, taking on the sense of tawdry old lace. The golden rod, too, is spent, its brown stems beginning to bend. I like to walk in a field of old golden rod and pick off stems with boles from the borer worm that occasionally afflicts them. They make great fishing corks come Spring. The dew is heavy, but by mid morning the leaves will crunch loudly. I can feel, in my mind’s eye, the texture of a white pine under my hand. The smell of its resin and the view after one climbs up 30 or 40 feet.
Here I am, stuck on the Left Coast. In a place with no seasons, just a monotonous 40-70 degrees and partly cloudy to foggy all year round. But, I have thousands of memories and scents and touches and images to keep me company. My land, Appalachia, is rich in my soul. And, with God’s grace, I will be able to call a small piece of it mine this winter. I will be able to take a small piece under my stewardship, a place for my family to know as Home and a place where my actions can hold me accountable and attest to the sort of man I am. I long for this Place, as yet unknown, but sensed so intimately.
I pray there is a place like this for you…