Under the Harvest Moon
by Carl Sandburg, 1878 - 1967
Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
One of the things we were all looking forward to during our sabbatical was a healthy dose of Autumn. Technically, we have 4 seasons here in Wyoming, but our Fall season generally consists of a few weeks of a smattering of yellow leaves on a very few trees and then nothing but bare branches.
Everywhere we went on the east coast, Nature seemed to have put on her best finery. The trees were resplendent in golds, crimsons, ochres and greens. The best part of our daily commute, believe it or not, was the I-95 corridor and all of the beautiful stands of trees lining the highway. We had intended to go out many times to capture the loveliness, but the weather had other plans. It rained every free day that we had. Finally, the kids and I made it out the door before it rained one day. The pictures below are some of what we found on the back roads near my sister's house.
Of course, no Autumn would be complete without Halloween. I am not a huge fan of the pointlessly macabre. For me, Halloween is about cycles and renewal. there is no life without death, and Halloween is a good time to recall our mortality and the shortness of our days, and to feel our connection to all that has passed on before us. One of the hardest things to do when you are far from home is to find a group of people to connect with. We were fortunate in our search and were welcomed as a part of a secular unschooling group.
We decided to join the group for a fabulous tour of the Crystal Cave in Pennsylvania. Kids were encouraged to come in costume, but only little Lady Chatterly did.
One of the best parts of being inside a cave, besides the gorgeous minerals, is the sense that you are in the bowels of a living organism. Our tour guide was fantastic, and I only wish that I could remember half of what he said.
We are a family of geology geeks, so being in a cave at any time of year is a special treat, but being in a cave for Halloween was just amazing. The stairs inside and out of the cave were formidable. I'm sure Sir Talks A Lot would not appreciate this photo of his round rumpus, but it's a good example of the climb. As you can see, he was just as engaged in taking pictures as I was.
Here's a sample of some of the rock formations we saw.
We were all famished by the time the tour was over, and unlike this chipmunk, we had a bit more work to do to come by our lunch. We decided to drive down into Kutztown and stopped at the Letterman's Diner. I had the best deep fried, crispy scrapple with maple syrup. None of the rest of the family would try it. They, apparently, are of the opinion that a food item with the word "scrap" in its name is probably not very good eats.
There was still quite a bit of daylight left, and the kids wanted to stretch their legs, so we headed to a nearby cemetary to look around and soak in the peaceful ambiance.
The headstones ranged from towering, ornate monoliths, to simplest one markers. Some were quirky. Many, particularly those on the graves of children were quite sad. None of the people buried there were our family, but as we walked among the graves, we couldn't help but feel a connection to them, wondering at the story of their lives and their inevitable deaths. The oldest headstones dated from the 1700s. We wondered how many of the young men had fallen in battle.
Lady and Hubby found the whole experience overwhelming and were ready to leave almost as soon as we arrived. Sir and I, on the other hand, found the melancholy cathartic.
And because the journey would not have been complete any other way, we saw a black cat creeping through the graveyard right before we climbed back into the car and headed home.