The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
Departed leaves.
The ground is hard
As hard as stone.
The year is old
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
Displays a certain
The beauty of
The bone. Tall God
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.
Give thanks: we do,
Each in his place
Around the table
During Grace.

—John Updike

Yahrzeit3Aunt Marge

View from the Top


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!

CakeYellowRoses2Anne Wotring


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.



The month is amber,
Gold, and brown.
Blue ghosts of smoke
Float through the town,

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.

—John Updike




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.


Autumn Equinox

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.