This weekend I took a walk around a yellowing path, kicking leaves that were like little flames licking upward. The air was sensuous and crisp—a red-letter justice after summer’s bursting heat. I was in the company of one of my favorite people, and we stopped for a while at a shaded park bench to gongoozle.
The light gilding through the trees reminded me of Keats’ poem, “To Autumn” (Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;) but the sight of lovers slowly strolling beneath fragile canopies made me think of Elvis Costello’s song, “Fallen.” These couples walked hand-in-hand, stopping occasionally to share a kiss, or to look for a while into one another’s eyes—backward, perhaps, and also forward—having fallen into love, into this gorgeous moment between the exclamation mark of summer and the period of winter, looking as though they wished to suspend themselves there forever.
It makes me think, too, of one of my favorite scenes in WHISPER HOLLOW, where Alta and John meet for the first time as adults, on a hollow of the West Virginia mountain where they live. You can find an excerpt here.
This is my favorite time of year to write—windows open, with a strong hint of cool on the breeze. Even as I sit now, back to reality, with the wintering white of a new manuscript page, I can fall back into reverie just by thinking about the blush of that golden afternoon.
All the leaves are turning yellow, red and brown
Soon they’ll be scattered as they tumble down
Although they may be swept up so invitingly
I never did what I was told
I trampled through the amber and the burnished gold
But now I clearly see how cruel the young can be
You can convince yourself of anything
If you wish both hard and long
And I believed that life was wonderful
Right up to the moment when love went wrong
I gaze up at the tree-tops and laugh
I need somebody to shake me loose
I want to know what happens next
‘Til I don’t care at all
There I go
Beginning to fall