Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Desolate Places

October is a month of desolation, when we're aware—despite clear blue skies and bright colors—that the year is dying. Leaves fall; winds blow; the days grow shorter. Robert Frost captures the desolation in this poem:

Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

On a few recent October mornings, I've noticed some of the desolation near me. Just down the road is what was once the old Wright farm, that was clear-cut a few years ago and then sprayed with herbicide. Remnants of the house, desolate and decaying, remain.

The barn, or what's left of it, is still there, too.

The long-dead Wrights still lie in their desolate, untended graves. I blogged about them in "What Was Once."

Several miles from this farm, on Brooks Mill Road, is an old building surrounded by woods. I'm not sure what it used to be, but I'm guessing a church. But it's pretty much abandoned—desolate in these October woods.

On the Sutherland planation, the skies show October's bright blue weather but the buildings are desolate and falling down.

This cabin, which once was the home of Civil War veteran William M. Sutherland, hasn't been lived in for nearly a century. October is coming to an end. The wild earth will go its way.

October seems to inspire poetry. Here's another October poem.

A Calendar of Sonnets
Helen Hunt Jackson

The month of carnival of all the year, 
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way, 
And spend whole seasons on a single day. 
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear; 
October, lavish, flaunts them far and near; 
The summer charily her reds doth lay 
Like jewels on her costliest array; 
October, scornful, burns them on a bier. 
The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign 
Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew, 
Oar empress wore, in Egypt's ancient line, 
October, feasting 'neath her dome of blue, 
Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through 
Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine! 

October is coming to an end. The wild earth will go its way.

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