Here in the Northeast, USA the first hint of chilly air drifted by in early September. After such a hot, dry summer, it was good to feel that refreshing breeze on my face. It came after a rainy day, when the much needed moisture fell softly and steadily, all day and night. When the first scent of autumn arrives, a feeling of enchantment washes over me, and the usual result is gourds, pumpkins, leaf garlands, cinnamon candles, witchy statuary, and spicy scented pinecones sprouting all around the house. I can’t help it. I love autumn! The scents, the rich colors and the haunted tales give me goosebumps—of the delightful variety.
At this time of year I always read one book in particular: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. It was one of my favorites as a child, and has remained so even now. The language and strong, story-telling voice stir my imagination, make me feel as if I’m in a bar enjoying a pint across from a villager who actually lived during that time period. The edition (above) is my favorite because it’s illustrated by the great Arthur Rackham. Incidentally, I also enjoy the movie “Sleepy Hollow” by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. A classic in its own right.
Discovering a new author is always fun, and lately I’ve been devouring anything by Wendy Webb, who I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I’m currently reading, “Daughters of the Lake.” Ms. Webb writes what I love to read: stories rich in descriptive language and shadowy imagery with a plot mined from folkloric sensibilities. Here is a description in case you want to check it out:
“After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…
One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.
As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past.”
A perfect Halloween read, wouldn’t you say?
As the leaves become burnished by the wind, I engage in witchy things, like reading tarot cards or choosing a rune stone for a daily or weekly message. I have two sets of runes: one came with a guidebook and is ceramic, the other is carved into tumbled bloodstones, which is the set I prefer.
When choosing a rune, I reach into the bag and let the tips of my fingers rest on the smooth, glassy surfaces of the stones. As I brush over them, one will come into my awareness, and I’ll know that’s the stone to choose. The message is always appropriate to what I’m going through or feeling at the time, even if I don’t want to hear the advice it offers.
Autumn is a great time to take stock of the past year and make plans for the future. As plants die back and animals prepare for hibernation, a time of reflection and self-nourishment will soon arrive, if only we will become aware, and take advantage of the seasonal rhythms. I’ve already made lists of things I want to accomplish in the coming year, things I accomplished this year, and a “Grateful For” list, which helps keep it all in perspective. I also find the lists helpful when working on different projects. If I forget where I am on my journey towards my goals (which happens!) I can refer to my lists and get back on track.
Fall is a wonderful season with its colors, harvest foods and festivals. But it’s also a season of transition, when the warm days give way to the cold. By example, nature teaches us to rest, replenish, and prepare for our transitions—after holiday reveling, of course!
Until next time, enjoy this most beautiful of seasons!
Read my ghost story "Gator Eye Lake" on Amazon!