Can I tell you something? I'm a romantic. Particularly in the fall. You probably knew that, though, with my penchant for phrases like "kindred spirits" and "tea time."
But I'm an old-fashioned romantic. Sure, I love pumpkin spice lattes and plaid scarves as much as the next girl, but leather boots and pretty mugs on Pinterest are not what thrill me most in the fall. No, if you want to know what beats sweaters and low-lights, let's go for a walk, and I'll introduce you to a friend and fellow romantic along the way.
Did you notice those newly fallen leaves eddying and swirling, having been let go, finally free to dance with the wind, branches no longer chaperoning? Can you hear the way they skitter around your feet, chasing? Can you smell the rain, earthy and wild, better than Chanel. It's perfect. Breathe deeply.
I love the way those red and golden dressed trees herald much longed for change, a feast for the eyes and squirrels alike.
My friend Lucy adores the fall; she's the one I want you to meet. I'll tell you more about our friendship in a bit, but just now I finished her novel The Golden Road. In it, there is a gem of a rambling about October and you absolutely must have it. She says it far better than I ever could.
You may never know what scarlet and crimson really are until you see them in their perfection on an October hillside, under the unfathomable blue of an autumn sky. All the glow and radiance and joy at earth's heart seem to have broken loose in a splendid determination to express itself for once before the frost of winter chills her beating pulses.
Isn't that delicious? The hills transform from endless, indistinguishable green to a riot of rust and honey, setting the hills ablaze. Fall is full of mystery and woodsmoke and homecoming.
On our walk, smell the frost in the air, sharp as you inhale. Watch it turn the rims of every blade and curve of leaf into the most intricate work of art. The world at your feet is more enchanting than any wall in the Louvre, and it's just waiting to be noticed, free of charge. I know; I've been to Paris. I've stood in front of Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile as a Fine Art major in college. The leaves are better.
Do you feel it? The deep need to prepare for winter? To stack the stovewood and make applesauce and store up summer's bounty? Can you feel the anticipation of the holidays around the corner?
Now imagine all of this standing next to your child, getting to watch the magic unfold in their eyes and hearts, seeing them relish everything - the wonder - of all of these very real, very beautiful things. Those very things we take for granted as we scroll our phones instead of stroll in nature.
Salted Caramel Mochas be darned; there is nothing better - and at times more maddening - than watching and waiting for Alice and Milo to gather every leaf and nut they find interesting and desirable stuffing into their pockets for recording in our nature journals or simply to hold. "Oh Mama! Look at these colors!!" Yes darling, look at them. Love them. Notice them. Be grateful for them. They are a gift.
Every Autumn, I rekindle a fresh love affair with words, the cold outside driving me to seek out haven of book and blanket. Not all the words, but the right words, the right amount of words, and in just the right order. Beautiful thoughts.
As I mentioned earlier, Lucy Maud Montgomery has become a dear friend of mine over the last few years despite never having met her. Isn't is funny how connected you feel to someone when you read their words? In my mind's eye she keeps a neat little home, the kettle on, a fire casting cheery light all about her, entertaining guests to glean more deeply of character and delighting in their mundane stories, to hopefully refine and reshape with new names and lives. When she is not indoors, she roves the countryside at large, musing over all those perfect little descriptions as they happen to reveal themselves, holding onto phrases and words to savor before she commits them to paper.
And then 100 years later, I spied those musings at Anthropologie, where for me it all began. and where I first met Lucy.
I had walked in for my mini-vacation - a quarterly rambling sans kids - and spotted a newly designed copy of Anne of Green Gables by Rifle Paper Co. on an artistically decorated shelf amidst cute and overpriced felted ornaments and equally cute and overpriced candles. With my weakness for pretty book covers and classic literature, Lucy's Anne naturally had to come home with me. And that was the beginning.
Anne became so much more than Anne Shirley of Avonlea, she was a kindred spirit - as I'm fond of saying - as were many of the people she lived with or encountered.
And Lucy, well, Lucy's world and words shone like a beacon of home and wholesomeness my old-fashioned soul craved in this modern era. They were like a balm, a source of refreshment and renewal. Her words clean out the corners of my mind and give my downcast heart some hope of nobler character and simpler times, not terribly unlike scripture, so set apart have Lucy and her creations been to me.
And so I began to acquire antique copies of all of the Anne books. And then the Emily books. And now Lucy's other novels. Lucy has in fact introduced me to a number of friends these years. This fall I've been reading The Story Girl, and much like I've cherished Anne and Emily, I've now come to love the Story Girl. Lean in for your first encounter…
The big willow by the gate was a splendid golden dome, and the maples that were scattered through the spruce grove waved blood-red banners over the sombre cone-bearers. The Story Girl generally had her head garlanded with their leaves. They became her vastly. Neither Felicity nor Cecily could have worn them. Those two girls were of a domestic type that assorted ill with the wildfire in Nature's veins. But when the Story Girl wreathed her nut brown tresses with crimson leaves it seemed, as Peter said, that they grew on her - as if the gold and flame of her spirit had broken out in a coronal, as much a part of her as the pale halo seems a part of the Madonna it encircles.
Don't you love her a little now, too? She's a fascinating girl, one I resonate with, not because of appearances, but because we’re kindred in another way. She has earned her title The Story Girl...
Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.
I like to think myself one of those sojourners; a story-teller reminding the world of hope and magic. Beauty, truth and goodness. That Aslan is on the move. (Forgive me; I can't help myself.)
And so I'm grateful. For lattes, to be sure, but for the change, the cool, the colors, the frost, the awe, the good books, for Lucy, for the kindred spirits she gave me.
And mostly that I get to share it with two tiny souls for whom it is all so new and wonderful.
Cheers to you and yours this season.