I never buy novels like this one, about men and written by a man.
The cover caught my eye at our local antique mall. I picked it up and found that The Hardhats, a 1955 fictional book by H.M. Newell, is abut the construction of a huge northwestern U.S. dam.
I had to buy it because one of my many unpublished novels is about a man who works for the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. and as part of his job he visits the national dams each year.
You can be the first to read my first page, below, and probably the last to read it! [And spot the cobweb on my lamp.]
Oddly enough, I enjoyed the story of the characters in The Hardhats who are part of the temporary town of construction workers building the fictional dam.
A young woman named Margaret works in the office of the top staff and I recognized her autumn longings as something I experience myself. Perhaps you do too.
...suddenly now the deadening weight of summer was gone too, folding away into the haze of the hills and here were these longings come on her again, sharp and sad and sweet and bitter.
Margaret thought, if it were a thing one could understand about!
But her mind went groping and searching and could put no name to what it was she wanted. She thought of each dessert of which she was especially fond, and of the separate pleasure of sun and rain and breeze on her face, and of country fragrances and sounds she loved and she thought about the voice of Marian Anderson on the radio, and the holy face of Saint Margaret, and she thought about all the beautiful things she had ever seen and some she had never seen at all but only knew by instinct must exist.
...And she thought, exasperated, Whatever is it? What are these cravings so sharp in me?
She thought the gnawing nameless ache was hers alone.
It's not hers alone, I believe. Margaret's autumn longings may be universal when autumn arrives, even among those of us who claim autumn as our favorite season.
I love autumn so much and yet there always is that "nameless ache" that Margaret describes. I have made friends with it in the later years of my life.
When I turn my calendar to October it's always true autumn for me. [And here, dear family and friends, is where I ask you to pretend it is early October, when I first began to write this!]
I go on to do certain things I know will make me happy beyond understanding. I hang up autumn tea towels in the kitchen.
And wash a few autumn pretties.
[That's my October plate in the kitchen, Spode Blue Bird, my wedding china and October is our anniversary month. RH out in the garden watering.]
Unlike years pre-pandemic, RH and I no longer drive to the Nashville Farmers' Market and load the car with beautiful pumpkins and gourds. This year I settled for a few from the grocery store for outside and just sprinkled a few cheery items from the attic around the house.
I make time in autumn to simply stand and watch the trees around the pond in their daily journey to their autumn finery.
And I guard the Virginia creeper vine from a husband whose inclination is to tear it down.
[A hard frost stripped the orange leaves from the vine but has turned the huge maple gold.]
I cherished the last few bell peppers growing in large pots on the kitchen porch.
And we pickled the last few jalapeños for vinegar hot sauce for winter pots of pinto beans.
And in October I listen to the music of Marian Anderson and other opera albums that autumn calls for.
Although last week I listened to the music of the legendary country music star Loretta Lynn after her passing. This album done with Jack White, The Van Lear Rose, is a favorite of mine.
Of course in October I bake apple desserts.
And I light my two favorite fall candles from Milkhouse Candle Co...Rake, Pile, Leap!
And Brown Butter Pumpkin.
Every couple years I order a fun fall perfume, Demeter's Mulled Cider, not able to afford one I would love from Jo Loves. Although if Santa ever wants to bring me Jo Loves' Advent Calendar at 350 pounds (can't find the symbol for that!], I would not turn it down.
I turn to seasonal mysteries in October. I think I own every single Charlotte MacLeod mystery ever published, including those under her two non de plumes. But her Peter Shandy mysteries are my favorite. I love the professor detective.
And I dip into my favorite nature book, Edwin Way Teale's Autumn Across America, with the most beautiful prose about nature ever.
I also lost an hour of my morning falling down a rabbit hole learning about the fascinating Saint Margaret of Scotland that Margaret of The Hardhats lured me to. I'm an inveterate researcher and she's well worth the time!
And I indulge in another gift of time, curling up with the Harvest Holiday issue of Old World Design Society where creator/curator Angela brings her Door County home to those of us who love antiques and rich layered colors.
The quarterly magazine and being part of the online Old World Society group is my gift to myself year round. It's so much fun and inspiration to see what other members post about their own homes from around the world, many who have been featured in the magazine. Members who post pictures in the group and ask design questions get great advice from other members, many of them professional designers. I admit I've rarely posted there myself because my own cottage is humble compared to many in the group.
I am madly in love with Angela's huge old copper butler's sink that sat in her barn for two years until they moved to Door County, Wisconsin.
I get so much pleasure from the Old World Design Society that I'll link to a page about it in case someone is interested. I believe there are three price options for the group. Here!
I guess that the autumn longings that Margaret muses about in The Hardhats is actually a longing for beauty. Why that is more prominent in autumn is something I don't understand but I experience it in my own life.
Do you ever experience any of this?
Maybe I'm longing for an Autumn Tree like I used to make at Valley View. It was magical but I guess I'll wait and put up a Christmas tree.
Do you think November 3rd is too early? If I haven't put you to sleep with this extremely long post!