The Golden Slant of Autumn’s Light

Autumn is here. As I work in my office, I can hear the rat-a-tat-tat of acorns as they fall on the roof. Sometimes it is so loud and steady that it sounds as though a mischievous tree-imp is throwing small rocks on the house.


For the most part, the humidity is gone, and on nice days, the air is cool and dry. The nights have become so chilly that it won’t be long until we put down all the storm windows. Indeed, we have begun pulling the shades at night.

Autumn brings with it many chores to be done by winter. The chimney needs to be cleaned, and there is still wood to be stacked. Clif takes care of both of these things. At sixty-five—Clif’s birthday was Tuesday—he still feels spry enough to climb onto the roof with his long brush. Chim chimney, chim chimney, chim, chim, chiree.

In the fall, I cut down the spent perennials in the gardens. However, Jason, of the blog Garden in a City, doesn’t cut his down until spring. He feels there is more visual interest in the garden in the winter when the plants are not trimmed. I considered following his example, but spring is such a busy time that I was afraid it would add too much to my gardening chores. I am, ahem, not as quick or spry as I was in my younger years.


It is also time to take in the hummingbird feeders, clean them, and tuck them away until next spring. Those fluttering beauties no longer fly with a whiz around the backyard. They have begun their astonishing migration to warmer lands.

Autumn, to me, feels like a time of subtraction. Yes, we have asters and golden rod, a delightful duo. But along with the hummingbirds, the thrushes have left. I have not heard their piping song for several weeks. Soon, the loons will be gone as well. The nipping frosts will come, turning the landscape to an austere brown.


If it weren’t for the golden slant of light that autumn brings, this subtraction would be almost unbearable. But the light is so beautiful that it fills in for what we have lost.

And then there are the apples, another addition rather than a subtraction. For someone like me, who enjoys making pies and crisps, this aspect of fall is most welcome. No more apples from away, thank you very much. From now until April, all of my apples will come from central Maine.

While I am always sorry to see the passing of summer—farewell, my lovely flowers and hummingbirds—in truth I enjoy all the seasons. They all have their own beauty, from the exuberance of spring to the rich maturity of summer to the golden light of early fall to the glittering cold of winter.

The only season I don’t like is March. Yes, I know. Technically March is a month. But in northern New England this drear month feels like a season unto itself.

But never mind! March is nearly six months away. Right now, I will enjoy the thumping of acorns, the golden light, the bounty of apples, and cats in the garden.









A Fine Week to End Summer

Clif and I both have birthdays in September, and last week our daughters came home to celebrate with us. What a fine week it was! Having them here was the best present of all, and Shannon, who lives in North Carolina, has decided to make a mid-September visit a yearly occasion. Dee, our eldest, could only stay until midweek. It’s always inconvenient when work gets in the way of having fun.

Shannon stayed for the whole week, and as is our way, we filled it with simple pleasures—visiting with friends, going to a lecture on politics, playing a new game that Shannon got for her birthday. The weather was so warm that we could have drinks on the patio nearly every night.

Saturday, Shannon’s last day, was the grand finale. We went to Lakeside Orchard in Manchester for an apple festival.


Then, it was off to the Red Barn for lunch. I had one of their fabulous lobster rolls, and Shannon had a shrimp basket.


The Red Barn supports many charities, and outside a pet rescue organization—can’t remember the name—had a display, complete with dogs and cats. Shannon, a dog lover extraordinaire,  couldn’t resist cuddling one of the dogs, a sweet border collie mix named Linda.


After lunch, we went to Hallowell to sit by the Kennebec River.


The river was aflutter with birds.  We saw herons—look closely on the left.


From an even greater distance, we saw bald eagles. (Unfortunately, my wee camera doesn’t get good shots of birds, especially when they are far away, but I always try.)


And, of course, there were ducks that—to borrow from my friend Barbara—are plentiful but never common.


On Sunday, I brought Shannon to the bus station to begin the first leg of her journey back to North Carolina. I was so sorry to see her go, but she and her husband, Mike, will be back for Christmas, which isn’t that far away.

Now, it’s time to settle into our routine, to work on getting my YA fantasy, Maya and the Book of Everything, ready for publication.

There’s just one little hitch that will keep me from working for a few days—Clif gave me his cold. It’s just starting today, and I’m getting chores done before the road-kill phase of the cold sets in. Fortunately, Clif’s cold has not been a bad one, and I expect that by the end of the week I will be back on schedule.

Onward and upward!


A Fine Day for a Birthday

Today is my birthday, and I am fifty-nine years old. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it is warm, but not too warm. A lovely, lovely day.

Tonight, we’ll be meeting our eldest daughter and a friend for dinner in Brunswick.  On Saturday,  our youngest daughter will be coming for a week-long visit. And in a couple of months, my YA fantasy, Maya and the Book of Everything, will be published.

What a great way to start my fifty-ninth year sixtieth year!. (Thanks, Lyn LaRochelle, for the correction.)

Because my youngest daughter will be here for a visit, I’ll be taking a break from blogging. (And from editing. Praise be!)

A very happy September to all. I’ll be back at the end of the  month.


Maya and East Vassalboro, Maine: A Sense of Place in Fantasy

My upcoming book, Maya and the Book of Everything, is a fantasy, and much of the action takes place on a fictional planet called Ilyria as well as in the mysterious Great Library. But some of the novel is set in East Vassalboro, Maine, a real town where my mother lived for over twenty years. I chose East Vassalboro because, through my mother, I came to know it well, and though it be small, East Vassalboro has a keen sense of community.

When Maya and the Book of Everything opens, Maya and her mother, Lily, are on their way to East Vassalboro to spend the summer with Maya’s grandparents—Mémère and Pépère Turcotte. (In another post, I’ll write about Maya’s Franco-American connection.) Maya comes from New York City, and although she loves the city, she also loves the little village of East Vassalboro with its homey charms. img_4587

It has a corner store that smells of oiled floors.


A grange hall, freshly painted inside and out, where there are public suppers, plays, and book sales.


A historical society housed in what was once a school.


A little stream that runs through the center of town.


And most important, a small brick library, surprisingly new. (The old one, a converted cottage, burnt down years ago.)

Why do I use a real village in a fantasy novel? Because it provides a  sense of place that grounds the story. From East Vassalboro, Maine, I can move Maya across the universe, but no matter where we might travel, Maya and I always know where home is.

A blog about nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life.