Ode to Autumn

The endless green of summer,
Has turned to golds and reds,
While the leaves are all a flutter,
Making pillows for our heads.

The hot, aggressive summer sun,
Now hides behind the clouds,
Creating dreamlike shadows,
That reflects the world around.

The trees have changed their summer greens,
To the warmth of autumn hues,
And a chilly early morning frost,
Has replaced the summer dew.

The sound of weekend mowers,
And the sight of lawns so green,
Are echoes now of Autumn rakes,
And piles of aging leaves.

The whisper of the summer breeze,
Has reluctantly flown away,
As the stronger push of the Autumn wind,
Has defiantly taken its place.

And the happy mood of the summer sun,
Has weakened in its fight,
As the darker mood of Autumn,
Has coldly diminished its light.

And in the chill of the afternoon,
As the children play in the leaves,
The smell of fireplaces burning,
Give the promise of a cozy eve.

And you’re filled with anticipation,
For Pumpkins and Halloween,
For Hay Rides and Candy Apples,
And Ghostly sights to see.

Oh yes, the Fall is finally here,
And its glory fills your heart,
And you breathe that air so crisp and clear,
And pray that it never parts.

By Patricia Fleming

path through golden red trees


Photo by linux87

Memory of Another Winter

Only half-way through January and already it feels onerous and way too long. Is it advancing age that places this heavy mantle on my shoulders? Is it the contemplation of yet two more months of crippling snow and deep freeze?

The other day I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in Alaska, to roll out of bed every day and face the challenges of life in the frozen north. Nearly constant darkness, temperatures dropping lower than the worst ever chronicled on the summit of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. Nibbling on frozen whale blubber to stave off gnawing hunger pains that growl to be sated. Orca on the half-shell. Just plain awful.

It was not always like this. I can remember earlier years when I welcomed the onslaught of a strong winter storm. Together with other young couples we would head to the sledding hill of a friend in a nearby town, leaving a baby sitter to care for five sleeping children.

A cold and clear night, bright canopy of stars overhead, roaring bonfire, mugs of hot rum and the fun camaraderie of other young marrieds like ourselves. We felt such freedom from the daily responsibilities of our young lives. Icy winds, bitter cold temperatures, none of it mattered.

A fifty-year old memory? Impossible. It still seems like yesterday. Now, when wintry winds howl outside I retreat to my comfortable chair with a good book, snuggle a warm lap blanket closer around my knees, hunker down and long for the warm days of April.

mother and son walk in snowy forest


Patricia Sullivan is a dedicated writer of short essays. In addition to Nature Writing, her work has been published in a Life After Seventy anthology, The Boston Globe newspaper, Regis College Creative Writing magazine, and Still Crazy Magazine. Mother of five, grandmother of seven,she stays young by spending time with kids and grandkids. Her celebrated wine cakes have appeared on many community tables, always with attached recipe. Patricia and her husband, Paul, live in a small house on Winnings Pond in Billerica, Massachusetts, USA, known as “Sullivan Central” to the members of her large family. A first attempt at writing in later years was a piece of “foolish doggerel” whose odd message she then accepted:

An Old Woman Dozing in Bed,
Heard an odd voice inside of her head.
“Wake up you old fool
and go back to school
There’s more years behind than ahead!”

Photo by vladsogodel

Hiking with Nina

Three of us walking
Along the marshland trail
Grandma, Grandpa, toddler Nina,
Stopping every 20 feet or so
To investigate a new find –
A dead and desiccated millipede,
A rotting oak gall,
A crayfish gullicating
Through the trailside grasses
Looking for the creek it misplaced,
A whole field
Of brown and brittle Fuller’s teasels
One of which we cut for Nina
For whom it is important
To hold the world in hand.
When we come across a clump
Of several snow berry shrubs,
Leafless stems with clusters
Of small star-white orbs
On the ends of their branches,
We stop of course
To engage in a bit of harvesting
And find that when we squash those berries
They squirt a particularly satisfying white goo
That obliges us to cry out
“Mashed potatoes!” with each squeeze.
“Mashed potatoes!” Nina shouts
Again and again for the next few minutes
Picking and squashing, picking and squishing,
“Mashed potatoes! Mashed potatoes! Mashed potatoes!”
We all whoop in exuberant harmonies
Until at last the little one has had her fill
Of slushy spuds
And heads toward other possibilities,
In this case a large puddle just up the path
To which she applies her new teasel
With great vigor and intention,
Whipping up a fresh batch
Of unforgettably delicious mud soup
To nourish us all.

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

granddaughter walking with her grandparents


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has been published in many print and online journals including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai’i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday, Watershed Review, and others. He has written several books of poems, including When Compasses Grow Old, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. He was the producer of the Courage to Resist Audio Project and co-producer of two documentary films, Outside In and Por Que Venimos. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Photo of toddler and grandparents by David Pereiras Villagrá.

Faster

Faster, Grandpa, faster

Three kids in back, two in front
Faded, sun-cracked seats scratch, stick to bare thighs.
Windows opened wide, dust tickling noses,
eyes sparkle in anticipation.
The brown Galaxy reaches the hill’s crest
rushing down the other side.

And we collapse into giggles as our tummies flip.

Faster, Grandpa, faster

I urge over the rumble of the un-muffled tractor.
Grandpa’s forward-looking eyes squint
as he leans his head and shoulders toward my voice.
“Go faster!” I shout through one cupped hand,
my other gripping tightly,
I partially stand from my wheel cover perch.
Gears click and I jump as we surge ahead
exhaust mingling with the smell of fresh, mown hay.

Wind tossing hair messily,
laughter lost in growling engine roar;
monster tires crunching gravel,
trailing smoky plumes
of dry July
dirt.

Faster, Grandpa, faster

Grandpa takes the long way home,
approaching the bumpy tracks of multiple trains.
Accelerating ever so slightly,
the old Ford’s worn out suspension
increases the bounciness –
thump-a-lump-a-lump-a-lump-a-thump.

Screeching, we plead to turn around and “go again.”

Swing me, Grandpa, swing me

Next in line, lifting my arms and trusting gaze
his hard, cow-milking hands engulf mine
circling me round and round
letting me go, to land
gently in soft
grass.

Swing me.

By Caryn Hansen

hands of grandfather and child


Author photoRead more of Caryn’s poetry at https://carynspot.blogspot.com/search/label/Poetry

Photo of the hands of a grandfather and child by dotshock

Pieces of Tranquility

Piece by piece my kids
Add in soft colors, fresh air,
Sounds of carefree bliss.

Lights in the windows
Touch the field humming for joy
With a horse’s kiss.

Each unique shape fits
Into a scene where dreams and
Realism thrive.

Not just a puzzle
But a reminder to feel
Each moment of life.

cottage puzzle scene


Heather Gelb grew up hiking through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. She feels most fulfilled leaping from hilltop to hilltop, as she writes in her recently published memoir about her spiritual and physical journey from the heart of Africa to the heart of Israel, Hilltop to Hilltop. Her poetry has been published in such diverse works as Poetica Publishing, Stepping Stones, Jellyfish Whispers, Deronda Review, Green Panda Press, and Dead Snakes.

Photo by the author of a recent puzzle project completed by her children.