Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Musings, 08 October 2011

Good morning,

Our wind chimes softly sing above the distant, intrusive roar of Saturday traffic on Troost Blvd., the large, symbolic dividing line that runs north and south less than a quarter mile to my east. The breeze which caresses the chimes also stirs the fronds of mimosa, wafting their mild lingering scent across my deck. I think that I can detect the fragrance of hot asphalt from our new driveway, but I am probably mistaken. I've never had a keen sense of smell; but I am susceptible to suggestion, and I let the pungent odor claim the backnote in my morning survey of our space.

I worked at a fevered pitch this week, and the quiet of this uncluttered morning embraces me, easing my tension. I cannot overplay the pleasure that I take in these mornings on my porch, nor the reluctance with which I greet the approach of winter's chill. I am an autumn woman. I like the warm colors of fall, and the light jackets and woolly sweaters that suffice this time of year. I do not manage well in heavy coats, boots, and mufflers. I resent December.

When I raise my eyes to follow the line of the neighbor's sugar maple that stretches its crimson leaves high into the vivid blue sky, I could be seeing any tree in any town where I have lived. In Arkansas, the fall came later than it does in Missouri, but it burst upon our world with just as much panache. I sat on a screen porch in Jasper and listened to the rush of the Buffalo River as it flowed past the town, and the rustle of October winds in the tall trees of Newton County. I nestled in a metal lawn chair on my mother's porch in Jennings, closing my eyes, inhaling the clean scent of a fire burning leaves somewhere nearby, no doubt in the confines of a steel trash can, overlooked by a watchful husband.

I have never lived in a seasonless climate. I imagine that the passing months would resemble one another too closely for my liking. I do not see the sense of entering the year's fourth quarter without the gentle falling rain, the leaves swirling on the sidewalk, the changing colors. I've heard people make a case for year-round education by dismissing society's ties to an agrarian calendar as meaningless in our technological age. I raise my eyebrows and make no comment. Three rowdy months of summer followed by a sensible change of temperature and freshly sharpened pencils -- what could be more natural?

I feel a quickening of earnestness in everything around me. My clients push to have their cases tried before the end of the year, presumably to gain some tax advantage. We got the driveway done so the asphalt would set before the first frost, and as soon as we can drive on it, the tree guy is coming to take out the old cedar, lest it fall on our house with December's ice and snow. Fall break at our children's schools approaches, and we have already begun to ruminate on the location of our Thanksgiving gathering. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Stack the firewood and bring the snow shovel out of its cobweb-infested corner. Autumn surrounds us; winter cannot be far behind.

I have only to close my eyes to envision myself in a blue serge uniform and white shirt with Peter Pan collar, trudging through the piles of crunchy leaves. I had a plaid satchel that I wore slung across my body. It clunked against my hip as I walked, and bunched my navy blue cardigan, but I liked the feel of its weight. The mile between home and school, traversed slowly in the chilly autumn air, afforded me time to dream. I composed my first poems in my head, and struck silent bargains with the saints. On the way to school, I beseeched my guardian angel to keep the big boys from teasing me; on the way home, I pleaded with St. Anthony to keep my Daddy from yelling at my mom. My brothers ran ahead, dragging a long stick along the ground, swinging their books and hollering at me to walk faster. I did not care. I knew they would not leave me.

As this year draws to a close, I will grumble my customary lament. I don't like to drive in coats. I fall on the ice. The cats will want to stay inside at night, and my husband will sneeze more loudly and cast baleful glances in their direction. But for now we can leave our windows open even at night, and the sweet winds of autumn waft through the house as I go about my morning chores. Other people clean their homes with increased vigor in the spring; I prefer the ritual of autumn cleaning. Once the cold of winter settles around me, my joints will swell and I will inevitably catch a wicked cold. We will all feel better if the house sparkles and shines before the winter falls around us. I will banish the germs, sweep away the collected debris of summer, and wipe down the cupboards. Then, when the seasons turn again, we can all hibernate in comfort.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.