27 Oct Fall's grand entrance
by Vivian Lawson Hogue
Late summer weather can be hot and tiresome, but at some point in August the sunlight is tempered with more gold than yellow.
As it sends the day on its way, it mellows colors, and the senses of a new season are heightened. Birds will begin chasing and catching the last cicadas in flight, an event discerned by the insects’ suddenly sustained scraping sound as it is caught.
Crickets, whose never-ending summer drone may even invade one’s home, slowly space that drone into autumnal chirps until eventual cooler weather finally and gratefully provides silence. Tree frogs have spent the summer presenting their “Daddy-sangbass” performance alongside the crickets’ “Momma-sang-tenor,” and people can hardly hear themselves speak. The nights will get quieter, though, as they complete their life cycles.
By October, biting and stinging insects that have encroached upon everyone’s spaces and faces will find other places to go, hopefully forever if the winter temperatures cooperate. As fall nears, summer gardens will slow, but leave green tomatoes to be salted, dipped in egg, dredged in flour and fried. Gardeners may have canned the bounty of their summer garden and already planted greens for winter growing. Pinks, blues and yellows of summer lilies are escorted off the stage by autumn’s rowdy gold, red and orange performers.
Pumpkins are readying for their debut. In Old Conway, the wealth of ancient oaks, sycamores and sweet gum trees will initiate the color-turns and downward whorls of leaves. Rakes and mowers will contain their spread except on the occasion of a one-point landing into a pile by a youngster. The fig bush leaves fade, wrinkle and drop, but their fruity aroma remains to hint of their return in the spring.
Blue Jays loudly argue over some birdly issue that is never settled, and they and the squirrels quarrel over our pecans. We know we will lose some and perhaps all to their finicky preferences. Acorns are their secondchoice delicacy, so next spring I will find them sprouting in my rose garden, their long and strong tap roots already formed.
Fall finds nature observers looking for signs heralding possible winter weather including the intense light of the harvest moon. Clear, cold nights are occasionally overcome with thick clouds. Above them may be the purposeful, stirring sound of a few geese leading their V-formed gaggles to a new climate, causing a fortunate witness to pull a sweater closer.
While savoring the season with our senses, we pause on a designated November day to recognize our blessings and their source. Before we carve the hapless turkey on Thanksgiving Day, we must remind ourselves, family and guests that it is our fought-for liberty that allows us the celebration.
George Washington proclaimed the first thanksgiving celebration in America in 1789. He declared it “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
Whether the “favour” is food for our sustenance or the gift of another day of life, we are all blessed beyond measure.
A native of Conway, Vivian Lawson Hogue graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in art education. A retired teacher, she worked in the Conway School District for 23 years. She is editor of the Faulkner County Historical Society’s semi-annual publication, “Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings.” She can be reached at [email protected].