Thursday, November 4, 2010

Autumn Song

This past Sunday was Halloween. I think it may the first that I did not carve a pumpkin for. There were no costumes and no trick or treaters out here at the farm. There never have been since we live so far away from suburbiaville. When our kids were small and enjoyed knocking on doors for candy we always had to go to town and find a neighborhood that looked promising for loot. This Sunday was quiet, tho, and it settled into a nice memorable day of its own merit, not requiring the help of pumpkins, nor of costumes and candy.
I fixed a late morning breakfast of leftover corned beef, turned into hash with diced potatoes and sweet saut√©ed red bell peppers and onions, with a sprinkling of thyme. This was topped with two soft poached eggs. A spot of fruit on the side and a light screw driver completed the fare. It made for a nice mellow start to a fine autumn day. 
I have always loved corned beef, the salty flavor that goes so well with horseradish, potatoes, cabbage, carrots. I regard it as high comfort food. I also am reminded every time I eat it of one of the worst whippings I ever got, as a kid at my parents’ table. 
On that memorable occasion my mother had prepared corned beef hash, which I liked immensely, even tho it was from a can, as were most food groups in the mod ‘60s. As we opened our napkins, post prayer, and took stock of our grub, I casually remarked that the food looked just like the Kennel Ration canned dog food that we fed our pup Skippy. I meant nothing by it other than an observation. I just remember my surprise at being suddenly snatched from my chair by my father and getting a very solid paddling, while I protested the innocence of my intention. I learned to keep my non positive, or any questionable comments to myself from then on. There is holy hell to pay for insulting a cook.
Anyway, back to Sunday...various chores which got done at a leisurely pace, made for some of the day until later in the afternoon when the sun began washing the landscape with a warm golden hue and made long cold shadows as it began its decent to the horizon. We climbed onto the four wheeler and went back to the woods.
Our property is approximately 90 some odd acres of which, maybe 30 or so are relatively high ground and is open, used as a horse farm, hay fields, and site for home and barn. It quickly slopes behind our house into seasonal wetlands, hard wood covered, dense and dark, until it gets to our northern border of Pinchona Creek. I had seen from the back of horse a few days ago that it looked that the creek was at very low stage and might be revealing interesting things without the usual flow of water over it.
We climbed down the banks into the creek bed where only a mere trickle of crystal water flowed now. The banks loomed some 25 to 30 feet over our heads. At our feet were small black mussels, and a carpeting of leaves from the many species of trees in the canopy above. 

We stood on a long flat hard blueish clay bed at this spot, an ancient deposit of a chalky vein that runs under the Black Belt soils and which is home to many fossils and impressions left by animals that lived in the sea that once covered this area. I broke a few pieces apart and found impressions of bivalve/clam shaped group.

As we walked further along the creek bottom we came around a turn to huge ancient cyprus trees standing nearly 150’ or more by my guess. They were covered in Spanish moss and they looked like swaying dancers in the breeze, lit from a low angle, making them seem even taller. The banks, that are normally under water, now showed how these giants were not subject to be eroded away like the oaks and pines are. Wild and crazy root systems intermingled and occasionally rose to form a knee, but together it all formed a net or barrier to keep the bank from being undercut.

I had never seen as large of a grouping of these trees before and to find them literally in my back yard was just amazing. To find the spectacular in unexpected places is why we enjoy exploring, and it certainly paid off this time. Mark, of course, took many gorgeous photos of the beautiful scenery we were in and I did the ones here on my cell phone. It was hard to not see something wonderful in every direction I turned.
The sun finally got too low and it was time to get on the four wheeler and head back to the house. We came out of the woods into the wild flower field. Leaves were being blown around and drifted without course. It was a nice Halloween. Van Morrison wrote his Autumn Song many years ago but there is not a fall that comes that his song plays nonstop in my head.  “Leaves are brown, they fall to the ground.....I just feel like singing Autumn song....” 


  1. Another wonderful piece of writing that I enjoy so much, Margaret. Pete and I both laughed about the Kennel Ration dog food that looked like hash. We remember that also. Great memories!

  2. see...carol i rest my case. i was not alone in thinking that what my dog was eating looked very similar to what we were eating..probably better...those were the days

  3. Margaret, great show last night in the gallery. Great writing here, too. Kennel Ration? Very bold. Over in Mitylene, I was turning my nose up at butter beans, which lead to Dad dragging me to the pantry ordering me to eat a whole bowl of the things. The next time Mom offered me beans, I said I would take just one, She obliged with a single bean. How troubled must our parents have been?