Rainy September Afternoon

A rainy, cool day; the furnace came on briefly during the night. Autumn has descended on Vermont although here by the lake green remains the dominant color. Still, in bright evening light the trees now take on a markedly yellow tint.

Although rainfall has been near average for the year, the summer was dry and lakes, streams, and ponds are decidedly low. Some rivers look more like creeks as their streams flow along far from their banks. The rains of the past week seem to have made little difference as yet. Given the deficit we face, recharging the aquifer will likely be a slow process.

As the rain falls I’m listening to a concert of solo piano music by Chopin. I am reminded that weather and music give our lives context, helping us to orient ourselves in time and place. Autumn rains, the lowering sun, and Chopin have, for me, a most European feel, bringing me back to childhood days in rural northeastern England.

Reminiscing, I find myself in a two room school in a tiny village, the autumn light changing throughout the day as the ancient oaks that surrounded the school slowly took on autumn color. Sometimes, BBC concerts and music programs broke up the tedium of the day, as did class walks along the critter rich hedgerows that at that time still snaked through the landscape. I do not remembering meeting any trysting couples among the hedges, although there were trysting stories aplenty.

As we walked to and from school in the early morning or late afternoon dusk our path took us past two immense trees that were home to great raucous flocks of rooks. The dark birds would alternately alight and then swarm up again, forming dense clouds, the rush of their combined wings louder than the wind lowering in the trees. My friends and I must have seemed tiny indeed as we stood beneath the rookeries and gazed up.

Then it was off to my friend Elizabeth’s cottage at the bottom of our lane, where her mother offered us savouries and sweet tarts, and cups of tea while we listened to children’s’ programing on the BBC. Too soon it was time to go home to dinner, a journey of a few hundred feet uphill through the darkening forest, my head dense with stories.

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