Armchair Peregrinations

October 6, 1998

It's well into October now and Fall is supposed to be here. But not a trace of it in Charleston today. Yes, the leaves are beginning to turn yellow and brown and fall from the trees, but it was 83 and cloudy and muggy today. We had a good rain, though, and a nice breeze was blowing tonight to keep things very pleasant. A full moon was peeking in and out of clouds over the Ashley River tonight as I was returning home over the Connector. It was as bright as I've ever seen this familiar and comforting orb so near and yet so far away.

So, although it doesn't feel like Autumn, my wall calendar scenes announce it to be so in glorious colors and scenes reminiscent of bygone days. I am a collector of these calendars, each year buying a number of them to go on my walls. I have South Carolina landscapes, waterfalls, covered bridges, porches,and, of course, the Lang Graphics calendars that are the pride of my collections. These feature Americana scenes so wistful and nostalgic that I long to be able to step into them and walk down some leaf-strewn path, around a front yard and over to the porch of an old two-story farmhouse. An autumn scene on one of the Lang calendars shows a white clapboard house with a large oak tree turning bright red. Sunlight and shadows play across the outside walls of the farmhouse. In front of the cellar doors are pumpkins, baskets of apples and other produce, a flat of preserved vegetables and jellies, and a wheelbarrow full of large squashes and gourds. Another country scene features a small boy pulling a red wagon with his dog and two small friends nearby. All the trees in his yard are full of yellow and red leaves. A mailbox stands beside a gas lamp and the last of summer's flowers still bloom in the front yard.

As unabashedly sentimental as these scenes are, they remind me of a simpler and idealized America as the artists must surely have wished for, or else hoped to preserve as scenes they remember from their childhoods. I can't resist these calendars. I put them up every year and when I look at them, I dream a little of how things might have been or might yet be. Who knows?

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