Armchair Peregrinations

November 2, 1998

We've crossed the threshold into November, truly a sign of winter approaching. The bright, but green-fading days of October are leaving us with the usual regret. November can be gray and cold here on occasion, but the nice days still outnumber the gloomy ones, I'm glad to say.

Saturday on my drive to Lake Moultrie, I traversed country Route 16 toward Pinopolis, perhaps the first actual rural road I encounter after leaving the urban sprawl of greater Charleston, a 22-mile stretch from the tip of the peninsula to the outer suburbs of Summerville. Turning off the Interstate with immense gratitude after being crowded out and passed by noisy trucks and speeding cars, forward-pressed to who knows where, I enter a realm of deep country with little communities named Good Hope, and with farms, cows, streams instead of marshland rivulets, and plenty of uninterrupted woods to look at out the car windows.

I noticed with some apprehension how for the first time the trees and their leaves appeared old, fading into the autumn light. It happens every year during the course of November here in the Lowcountry where autumn lingers as it bids its final farewells. I saw a glorius yellow hickory tree, one of the few displays of color in these parts other than the sugar maples that people mail-order and plant in their front yards so that at least a few places will have splashes of blazing, red leaf color. In Columbia, where I lived some years ago, there were always magnificent displays of hickory color every November, particularly in the old Shandon neighborhood where the trees were long-lived and tall and the leaves turned a golden shade of yellow before falling off.

I also like to read sentimental poems about autumn this time of year. Maybe they're not enduring literature, but their pleasing and cheery phrasing and comforting words remind me happy times and good memories. Also, these are truly nostagic poems. They are the kind ordinary people sit down and write at their kitchen tables looking out over a leafy front yard or out across a back pasture to where the little creek on the property winds its way downstream. Here is a poem I came across the other day called "Autumn Road", and its by Louisa Godissart-McQuillen:

The road that leads to autumn
Winds down a lazy stair
Ripe with cornstalk sentinels
And pumpkins everywhere.

Senses fill with autumn scents,
A moon that lights the sky.
Crispy nights encased in frost
When geese are winging high.

It's time for taking hayrides
Along a chilly mire,
Cider's waiting, steeping hot,
And popcorn's on the fire.

The autumn road casts a glow
Across the splendid wood,
Reminding as we tarry
That country life is good.

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