Sunday, October 30, 2022

Atuumn Longings

 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I had to buy it because one of my many unpublished novels is about a man who works for the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. and as part of his job he visits the national dams each year.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.

I've never met Ms. Lynn in person but feel that we're old friends since I claim a "by marriage" relationship to her and her sister Crystal, who I have met, through sharing grandchildren and great-grandchildren with their sister. And I'll miss knowing that she is here, still writing her authentic songs.

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!



  1. I understand autumn longings very well-I've often said that I have a "love-hate" relationship with autumn. It's my favorite season, but also brings a certain melancholy feeling. Still, I love it!

    1. Jan, I read your comment and thought "She gets it, I'm not the only one who feels that way!" And breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't weird!

  2. I understand how you feel. For some reason, Autumn has me feeling very nostalgic and longing for the days with family and friends who have passed. Maybe it's because the holidays are coming up or that summer is over and things are slower and calmer (we live on a lake so it's very quiet this time of year!) and I have more time to think. It's such a beautiful season. If you are weird, then so am I! I'm looking forward to researching Saint Margaret. You always have such interesting posts!

    1. Thank you so much, Ellen! And your description of autumn at this point in your life is very familiar to me in mine.

  3. Oh my, your post is filled with such beauty and with lovely thoughts and wonderful photos. I loved the lines you shared from the book - those autumn longings. Oh yes! It describes what I have always called that homesickness for something.

    One day many years ago now, I realized maybe what I longed for is for something that once was, for Eden in those ancient days before the world turned upside down. When Beauty and goodness shone everywhere, not just in patches or through the cracks in the darkness.

    Thank you so much, Dewena! xo

    1. Thank you so much, Brenda! And what you've written about being homesick for something that once was stopped me in my tracks. I think of all the beautiful autumn thoughts and quotations I've pinned on Pinterest and I bet if I went there right now and reviewed them I would find at the heart of them would be that longing for beauty and goodness. Perhaps it is a longing for Eden or heaven on earth that for some reason grows stronger in the autumn months and for more than fleeting moments.

      I think you've brought me closer to understanding this autumn longings than ever before. Thank you!

  4. Hello Dewena
    What a lovely post, full of good things to read and look at.
    Many thanks for your recent visit to the low carb diabetic blog, I am sure you will enjoy the Parsnip and Apple Soup, it's perfect for Autumn days :)

    Enjoy this last day of October and have a happy month of November.
    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan

    PS Sorry blogger still plays around with comments still, so I've come through as anonymous!

    1. Thank you so much, Jan! We love both apples and parsnips so will try this soon. And it is strange about only being able to comment at some blogger blogs as anonymous while other blogger blogs I can comment on with my name. I'm glad you left your name!

  5. Ah.... longings. You are at least reminding me to be thankful for all the beauty around me and in the world, such as saints and voices and sunshine -- we had an hour or so of sun today --

    If I have autumnal longings, I don't have to long very long, because I can build and light a fire in the stove and sit with a book pretty easily and fast. Thank you for a thought-provoking ramble that wasn't too long at all. <3

    1. Ah Gretchen, so that's what you do--light a fire to sit and read by. I'm sure that helps. This is our first house without at least one fireplace but I do still feel that every book I pick up has the promise of a gold nugget in it--and often it really does. Thank you, Gretchen!

  6. Autumnal longings are very real; that awareness of impending and arriving change, and a desire to capture the beauty of the world in my mind and soul. Where would we be without beauty? I think we long for pure and true beauty, beauty that is otherworldly, that speaks to the infinite nature of God.
    I love this post, Dewena. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

    1. Thank you so much, Lorrie, and what the conversation here on this post has taught me, or at least given me the first glimmers of answers to my questions about these autumn longings of ours, is that the longings are a good thing. How could it not be good to long for--as Brenda wrote above--"when beauty and goodness shone everywhere." Or as you wrote, longing for beauty "that speaks to the infinite nature of God."

      This makes me think that our autumn longings are blessed gifts to welcome. And I'm smiling at the thought of that!

      An impossible thing? But maybe not impossible to reach for it in small ways in our own homes.

  7. Oh, I can picture you, so clearly, my dear friend, nestled cozily under fleecy covers, candlelight glowing, wax melting and scenting the room with seasonal spices. Your sweet, furry friends are snuggled at your side, as your eyes glide over the newest pages of your work in progress, scanning for any syntactic confusion. But, as the aroma of brown butter pumpkin wafts through the quiet space, your attention drifts to the beauty of autumnal cardboard treasures, crafted by creative little fingers and huge imaginations. Your heart is flooded with gratitude, your soul floats with love.

    Dewena, all your seasonal goodies appeal to the senses, from your scrumptious apple treats, pretty tea towels and vintage reads, to pickled veggies, nostalgic melodies and intriguing perfumes. But, for me, that rainy window boasting blurry hues and the view of the pond, lined by leafy, autumnal allure, sketched a happy smile on my face!

    Thank you for this most gorgeous post, composed with such heartfelt adoration for your forever favourite season, but also for inspiring this super busy, super tired, once upon a time blogger!

    Sending you warm hugs,

    1. Thank you so much, Poppy dear! There is sheer beauty aplenty in your words and that picture I took from the kitchen door of RH bringing groceries in through the rain was a favorite of mine too. When he came in I asked him for a do-over where he could hold his head up where the camera could see his face but he declined.

      And it makes me happy to think that it might have inspired my super busy, super tired, once upon a time blogger!
      Love you!

  8. I enjoyed seeing all your Fall lovelies, Dewena. I mentioned before your candle is charming, and the words on it, delightful. That's a sweet picture of your orange pumpkin and the candles, and RH watering the garden looking out the window. Your Fall tea towels are pretty. The jalapenos will come in handy when making your special dishes. I always like to eat them with eggs. The orange leaves gracing your house are pretty, and that is such a lovely photo, showing Fall at its best. And I love that rain photo too. I just took a road trip, and what do you know, it rained! Kind of scary when rain comes on the freeways, but I didn't complain, as we are in a drought. I liked seeing your scarecrows and all the Fall goodies around your house. This is a wonderful season, and it looks like you are really savoring the moments in your cozy house.

    Happy November days to you, Dewena.


    1. Thank you so much, Sheri! And I am savoring them, I know you do the same thing. I'm glad your road trip through the rain took place safely and I know you need rain there. Hope your trip is one to your beautiful granddaughters and happy November to you also!

  9. wonderful and special that your mother was born on All Saints Day. I'm not familiar with Saint Margaret, but like I said in my post, the ones I know are dear to me. Saint Anthony was one of first ones that I learned about, and I've loved him ever since. : )

  10. This is a beautiful post, Dewena. I, too, feel those autumn longings. I like how Brenda described them as a homesickness. That is so true! Autumn is my favorite month, but it always feels as though I'm waiting for something, yearning for something a little out of reach. Perhaps it's wanting to be 'back home' again with so many of my loved ones that have passed. xo

    1. Thank you so much, Karen! I liked how Brenda described it as a homesickness too. It actually did make me think, Yes, so that's what it is! And like you, I believe it is related with missing those loved ones gone on before us.

  11. I found so many old and new favorites in your beautiful post, dear Dewena. My parents had an album of Marian Anderson and I well remember us listening to their records in the evenings. Haven't thought about that for ages, thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thank you so much, Amalia! I'm happy that this brought back this happy memory of your youth. I was always drawn to the old movies where opera stars like Mario Lanza starred in the great musicals of the 1940s and 50s--trying to remember the other huge male movie star back then who starred in movies....? And of course the Hollywood leading ladies like Kathryn Grayson who starred in movies, but it's only been in my senior years that I've started collecting opera albums. Partly, I think, because of watching Detective Morse and his younger self Endeavor and falling in love with the opera music played on both series.

  12. Such a lovely post.
    I do enjoy the Autumn months ...
    Hope November has started well for you.

    All the best Jan

    1. Somehow I missed replying to you, Jan. My favorite month of November is near to ending and I'm savoring every single day. I know you are too.
      Best to you!

  13. I hope you put your Christmas Tree up! We still need every bit of Cheer and Sparkle we can get. And the Holiday Season is so very short, actually. (I am writing this, the day after Thanksgiving, and it is just 4 weeks, to Christmas Eve!)

    Have rediscovered your lovely blog. Thank you for this informative post, and the invitation to know Angela. :-)

    Gentle hugs...

    1. I know, only 30 days left! How can that be? Thank you for finding me again and I just added your blog to my blogroll so I won't lose you again!
      I have a feeling that you would love Angela, I certainly do!