Jack O’ the Lanterns and Master of All

With all due respect to calendars and official, scientific times and seasons, Fall finally made his appearance into Coastal Carolina during the middle of the night.  I was sleeping with the carefree slumber of a child on a summer’s night.  My light-weight cotton pee jays were bunched up around my knees,  the covers were kicked off to the foot of the bed and the fan hummed quietly in the corner of the room to keep out night noises.  It was sometime in the wee morning hours that I awakened to a chill in the room.  I  got up and stumbled over to my dresser in the dark, feeling around in my drawer for my plush sleeping socks that I hadn’t worn since a cold snap late last spring.  I put them on while thinking about what it would be like to be blind and do everything in the dark.  Shutting down my brain before I began thinking too much,  I got back into bed and  pulled the covers up to my chin.  Warmth took over and I fell back into sleep’s cozy cocoon.   Fall smiled,  looked around the room and scratched his head.  He was glad to be back.dockside 3

I knew as soon as I walked out onto the back porch that morning that he was finally here.  I opened up my arms, spreading them out in glee to embrace my long lost friend.  I inhaled his deep, earthy smell of leafy decadence and felt his chilly hands upon my shoulders and his cool breath upon my face.  I smiled at him and asked, “What took you so long?”

He lazily shrugged his shoulders and said, “You know how greedy Summer can be.  He’s been stealing some of my days.  I had to come all the way to the very edge of the continent to make him go away.”  I crossed my arms and challenged him with a playful rebuke.  “Oh, stop your whining.  If there’s any stealing to be done, then you’re the one to do it, with that temper of yours.  It would frighten anybody!”   And with a  thunderous laugh, he just threw back his redish-orange pumpkin-glazed hair and snapped his fingers.   Just like that he turned up the rain and the wind, swirling brown and golden leaves into the air, onto my hair and down by my feet.  “Oops,” he said.  “I didn’t mean to make a mess.”   “Same old lame joke,”  I laughed back at him,  shaking my head to free it of the wet leaves.  “But, wow!  It’s great to see you.  I couldn’t wait for you to get here!” pumpkins

That morning he did everything he could do to get my attention.  He kicked up the winds and drove them in from the north, sending a chilly rain inland from the ocean and sending the wet droplets rat-a-tat-tatting on my back windows that looked out over the waterway.   He knew that I would stand there much of the day, watching him show off his natural abilities, taking advantage of my “crush” on him.  He had no shame!

Donning his artist’s beret and whipping out his Autumnal palette, Fall set up his canvas on the end of the dock and began to paint me an impressionist’s view of the the rain’s weight dropping like small pebbles into the water already swollen by the high tides. Wanting to join my friend, I brought out a big black and red striped golf umbrella to keep me dry as I watched him work his magic.  Yellow- green marsh grass peaked out of the grey-white waters, looking like the Atlantic’s bearded stubble.  Sky and water mirrored the same colors and I wondered how it was that gray could be on Autumn’s color palette. How many shades of gray were there?  Fifty?

I was his lone model standing on the pier in the pouring rain, my face lifted up towards a gaggle of geese honking loudly over the rain’s noisy din and flying low over the steely waters.  The wet sky was falling into the water.  It was time to come in.  I took one last look and put the painting on the back wall of my mind.  One never knew what the conditions would be when Fall showed up but whatever they were,  they were always spectacular.

I couldn’t believe the perfection in this wonderful gloomy day!  My favorite season was back in town!   It was time to put on the classical music.  Get out the cook books.  Drink hot cider and peppery, red wines.  Eat hearty, healthy soups and breads.  Invite friends over.  Sit around the table and talk about things that really mattered.  Religion AND  politics.  Solve community problems and plan family holidays.  Find my old red sweater and get a cord of firewood.  Fall was here!

Always using great flourish, He was not to be out done by winter’s stark beauty and muffled quietness,  the high intensity of Spring and its buzzing, mating madness and Summer’s maturing, adolescent gleefulness. He was Jack o’ the lanterns and master of all!

I met with him on the porch that night, after dinner, when the mood was reflective.   He had brought in a deep chill and we had made a fire in our chiminea.  I pulled on my red sweater and warmed my hands with a hot cup of chai tea.  He was settling into my bones and I already dreaded the day he would be gone and it would be too cold to sit in this happy place and revel in his glory.  “Please don’t go.”  I begged.  “You never seem to stay long enough.  It seems you’re always in a hurry.  Always going…”  I trailed off.

All of a sudden, I had a horrible thought.  What about the Harvest Moon?  What if he didn’t show up for my favorite full moon of the year?  What if he didn’t work his magic on that particularly wonderful night of the year when I could dance with Bill and feel  young again and…hopeful that good things would come full circle…and that the golden moon would make golden paths to follow… Oh no!  I was moonstruck and it wasn’t even the Harvest Moon yet…

“You WILL be here for that, won’t you?”  I waited for him to answer me.  I knew I was being silly but Fall did these kind of things to me.  Made me all ‘melty’ inside.

“Of course I’ll be there,” he said in his smoky-firey voice.  “It’s MY moon.  I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Just make sure you’ll save me a dance.”

I sat back, relieved.  Fall was going to stick around a little while!

Here’s a song for you…try to pick out some notable cameos!

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