The door-yard trees put on their autumn bloom,
Purple and gold and crimson rich and strong,
That stain the light, and give my lonesome room
An atmosphere of sunset all day long.
—Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832–1911), “October,” c.1866
“For anyone who lives in the oak-and-maple area of New England there is a perennial temptation to plunge into a purple sea of adjectives about October.”
—Hal Borland (1900-1978) 1961
“Essentially, autumn is the quiet completion of spring and summer. Spring was all eagerness and beginnings, summer was growth and flowering. Autumn is the achievement summarized, the harvested grain, the ripened apple, the grape in the wine press. Autumn is the bright leaf in the woodland, the opened husk on the bittersweet berry, the fruit of asters at the roadside.”
—Hal Borland, autumn 1967
“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth…The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her…In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
― Elizabeth George Speare (1908-1994), The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958)
Selections from the Journal of Thomas Merton (1915-1968], American monk & hermit, writer-poet, radical priest & peace-activist.
Oct 2 1964
Dark, wet, warm: continuous throbbing of guns at Fort Knox [Merton’s former monastery & hermitage are near the Kentucky army base]. Feast of Guardian Angels today, guides of hermits.
Five big flickers playing and feeding beautifully on the lawn.
Oct 3 1964
“It is not right that these eyes that belong to others should see in my own interest; it is not fitting that these hands that belong to others should move in my own interest. Being solely preoccupied with the self you cannot escape suffering. The unhappy are so because they have sought their own happiness; the happy are so because they have sought the happiness of others.” —Shantideva
Without this “Franciscanism” of Shantideva, no religious solitude makes sense. What would be the use of being a hermit merely for self-affirmation, even if one affirmed oneself in praise of God? What self?
Oct 5 1964
Finally built the first [hearth-] fire of the season, though it was not freezing outside. 40 or 45 I should judge. It was about 55 in the house, before I built the fire on getting up.
…A good bright afternoon. Went up to the end of the long field next to the hermitage and walked in the sun reading [about] St John of the Cross.
Yesterday, Feast of St Francis, I made a holiday of it. In the morning (bright and cold) walked through the hollow then to the long field and in and out the wood where the deer sleep. In the afternoon took a long walk to F’s Lake and around by E’s field to the shallow lake, etc. stopped at the monastery on the way back to get a few pieces of bread.