—John UpdikeAunt Marge
Some years ago a group of six of us women took off for the weekend sans husbands and children for an autumn getaway weekend in the Shenadoah Valley. We did a 14-mile hike, clambering through woodlands and ferns, over boulders and streams, pausing at one point to rest in a silent, abandoned apple orchard that swarmed mysteriously with late-season butterflies. But I think the highlight was our arrival at the top of the Big Schloss, which I depict in this watercolor. If you look closely you can count six tiny figures, one of whom is Anne, whose birthday it is today. Happy Birthday, Anne! Remember that view? And remember how good it felt to take off those darn hiking boots and get into a hot shower? Ouch!
Here’s an art form I don’t use too often but which comes in handy for large-scale decorating in a hurry—big white paper cutouts. This is our frightening Halloween front door, featuring the ghost family: Dad with mini-version of boat he is building; Sis with energetic jump-rope; Bro with faithful iPhone; Mom with paintbrush and spoon; and the world’s least scary Dog, unless you fear relentless licking.
Great V’s of geese Honk overhead, And maples turn A fiery red.
Frost bites the lawn. The stars are slits In a black cat’s eye Before she spits
At last, small witches, Goblins, hags And pirates armed With paper bags,
Their costumes hinged On safety pins, Go haunt a night Of pumpkin grins.
This is a perfectly legitimate image for my post, if you consider dough to be an alternative art form, which I do.
Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, whose annual dragon-conquering celebration is one of a number of fall festivals of reflection, review of our darker sides, and re-commitment to inner transformation—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, Martinmas—coinciding appropriately with the shrinking daylight. Take heart, dress in festive red, light the candles, recite poetry, sing songs, bake dragon bread to share with family and friends, and resolve to befriend, digest, and tame that inner dragon.
In Greenwich, England, tomorrow at 3:09 am marks the official turning of the year, the end of the long days of summer light: for the first time since March 20th, the day and night are of roughly equal length, and we in the Northern Hemisphere begin the movement into darkness.
However, because of the time difference, the Western Hemisphere actually celebrates the coming of fall TODAY at 11:09 pm EST. You all can begin to party early.