Tuesday, October 15

My Chessboard World

     I love autumn, and it’s not just because of the changing colors or the first chill in the air. It’s all about the joy of settling down, becoming quiet, becoming still. It heralds in that special time, that time between October and March, when I give myself permission to not have to be out and about, doing a million things or having to be at a dozen different places in a day.  The only exception to that self-imposed rule is the month of December, which, I’m sure, I need not explain why.  Otherwise, come October, my participation in things can begin to fade and drop down, just like autumn leaves.

During the summer, I get very involved—too involved—with a variety of events and people coming and going.  Living in the mountains, we know that the “doing” season doesn’t last all that long, and so we cram as much in as is humanly possible before the blessed “down” time arrives.  Fundraisers and festivals happen nearly every weekend, and our front door becomes a revolving door to friends and family who need a break from the intense heat elsewhere.  In the summer, my writing seems to take a backseat to my being a tour guide and temporary innkeeper.  

My husband stays equally busy, too.  Not only is he involved in some of the same extracurricular activities that I am, but he also loves to garden.  So, once fall arrives, although beautiful to him (not to mention we’re both glad that football season has started), it marks the end of his growing season, his fun-in-the-sun season. That is the only fly in the ointment to me; the fact that my husband won’t be outside and out from under my feet as much. When the cold winds blow, he comes inside, just like the ladybugs.

I’ve tried to get my husband involved in a hobby, namely pottery making, and though he had great potential, he just couldn’t stop staring out the window and thinking about next year’s garden.  His mind wasn’t on making pots but growing things in them instead. Ah, well, you can lead a horse to water… The saving grace is the tractor I bought for him, complete with snow-blade.  Now, when the white stuff accumulates, he gets out and clears the roads, which gives us both a chance to clear our heads.  I always volunteer him to clear our neighbors' driveways and roads, too.  They think we're kind.  I'm just trying to keep my sanity.  

This morning, I spotted the first smoke from somebody’s chimney rising above the treetops.  Grabbing Mama’s old olive-green sweater, I hurried out to my deck to watch the early morning fog mingle and swirl with the smoke in a beautiful autumn dance.  Quietly standing there, I listened as the squirrels squabbled over buckeyes and walnuts in my thick woods beyond, and marveled at the color-drenched maple and oak trees that have seemingly changed overnight.  Before long, their leaves will intertwine with the smoke and fog, and they’ll fall gently to the ground, creating a magnificent carpet of color.  

Suddenly, as though right on cue, the first chilly gust of the season sent light things aloft, including some of those leaves, and whipped my hair around like angry snakes.  Pulling Mama's old sweater closed, I smiled, wondering how that old North Wind knew it was time to usher me inside.

All things considered, it was a good “doing” time. I got a lot accomplished, but now it’s the start of that other time; that time I secretly start counting down the days to in the early summer.  Bidding the squirrels and turkeys farewell, I walked back inside, closing out the world, and entered another one that’s my all my own; a world in which I control the board like a chess match.  Quietly, I sat down at my desk and took a deep breath as though to initiate a new beginning.  Then I began to write.



  1. I love this. Fall is my favorite time of all, because then it's okay to stay tucked inside doing the things I like best to do.

  2. It IS a wonderful time of year for that. Ahhhh, soup on the stove, fire in the fireplace, hot cider. Who doesn't love that?! Thanks, Liz.

  3. What a lovely post, Janie. You certainly paint a picture with your writing. I know what you mean about summer being the doing season. Our springs and summers are so short that we have to be quick in cramming everything in. Things slow down in fall and winter. This winter I hope to settle in and get a lot more writing done than in past winters

    1. You and me both, girl - getting writing done this winter. I've come up with enough excuses now. It's time to get back to it! Thanks for your kind words, Jana.