Notes From My Knapsack 9-23-10
A Season For Orange, Or Something Like It
Autumn arrives today, in an official sense, with all its astronomical papers in order.
We've already been suspecting the presence of a new season, quietly waiting just around the next corner.
Browned off grass and singed leaf edges confirm this suspicion, and then there's the appearance of orange on the landscape.
Now, in this age of industrial chemical coloration, the word orange itself starts to take on an unearthly hue in our minds. Orange barrels, construction worker vests, overhead alert sleeves on power cables – that's an orange of a sort.
But I'm seeing an older orange, the one that is the true harbinger of autumn
You could call this color pumpkin, since that's the broadest, most obvious place to pick it out. Big ripe garden gourds waiting for a knife and a candle to reach their jack-o'-lantern apotheosis, pumpkins are obviously orange, but with a lighter touch and an inner vibrancy.
Up in the canopy, where most leaves are holding on for a last few days equal to the nights, there are glimpses of russet and reddish-brown and orange.
Even out in the lawns, where much of the turf has given up the ghost, there's a faint hint of orange-ish-ness out in the middle of the dormant patches, made all the more distinctive by the green corners that flare up after fall rains renew the shady patches.
Then when you roll out through the countryside, there's a dry, dimmer orange underlying the corn and soybeans, past their growth, withdrawing into aridity, waiting for the harvesters to roam the fields by night under the September moon.
"Shine on, shine on harvest moon . . ." which itself can be seen, on first arising, as an orange orb in the east.
From now through the end of December, nights will be longer than days, having just passed the equinox. For a little while longer, though, there's still a bit of an evening where a walk around the neighborhood or down the side of the road can still stretch the legs and clear the mind.
Henry Thoreau wrote a beautiful essay titled "Walking" which is worth reading as a spur to doing some sauntering yourself, easy enough to find online. It closes with a poem which talks about a road in the neighborhood of Concord, MA which once went to Marlborough but is now a farm lane, still displaying milestones much as Licking County's own National Road does.
Henry closes with a thought that applies just as well to Newark-Granville Road or Pearl Street, Main St. or Cherry turning into Broad:
If with fancy unfurled
You leave your abode,
You may go round the world
By the Old Marlborough Road.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him about your favorite road at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Knapsack @Twitter.