Way Down in the Fall
Our beloved guests from Oregon (Oldest daughter, Holly and grandchildren Aiden Redemption and Bella Allene) have come and gone since last we wrote. Now it’s bittersweet on Bittersweet Farm since they have gone.
While they were here we took a trip to the Ohio Amish Country like old times. We stayed up late and laughed and talked. My, did we stay up late. We ate way too much. We lay awake and told stories in the dark. Some were sacred. Some were scary. Some were funny. OK, most of them were funny.
My, did me laugh. What memories—bittersweet memories we added to the ones we already cherished from the little cabins in the Doughty Valley near Charm. The clop, clopping of horse-drawn carriages, the pastries “as big as your head,” the late night trips to the outhouse, getting up in the night to close the window, telling stories and memories and laughing at our own laughing. The days were perfect driving along the undulating backroads and visiting favorite eating places and shopping places, even our favorite orchard for cider. We stood and looked out over hills and hills beyond hills like the hills in my boyhood. (As a boy we often lived in suburbs and when we travelled to the farm in Ohio I would climb the hills and look out over the hilly green vistas with awe and wonder and deep, deep inexplicable joy. How sights like that bring joy to my soul. God’s good green hills.
After returning from Ohio we went to Kyle and Elizabeth’s for food and more stories and laughter and cousins and loved ones and a fire and couch-surfing, then we spent the day at a fun farm near Rothbury that Hannah arranged and then we went to her house for chili and more laughter and the fetching antics of children.
We travelled around to visit the other siblings in Michigan and the Michigan siblings travelled to Bittersweet Farm on the last night they were here to spend the day and say goodbye and celebrate Lois’s birthday and Heidi’s (Oh, the Wisconsin sibling visited, too).
There was love and laugher and there was food and there were tears and there were children, little tots—cousins playing under the walnuts and out in the north meadow and around the teardrop drive. We gathered sticks and rode bikes and we did little “farm chores” and the children pulled each other around in the wagon. We blew up the air mattress and made the couch and love seat into beds. We drove the back roads around here like we do in the evening sometimes and we had a treat every night.
And quickly as they came they were gone, back to Portland reunited with Jesse, and then over the coastal range and out to their home on the Pacific Coast Highway so very far away. And our hearts ached for love of them.
A few days after they left the seasons turned from summer to fall. A we are here on the place tonight, a place on earth Fernando Ortega called it in a line I suppose he borrowed from Wendell Berry, “Find me a place on the earth where a weary man can rest and listen for your voice in the turning seasons… a quiet place in the world where I can bow and confess that I fear where you have brought me mysterious God…” (Fernando Ortega—Find Me A Place on the Earth)
Song lyrics just snatches of them spring into my mind and some of them warm me like a hearty wood fire or a thick flannel shirt on a chili morning. Here is one…
“And I didn’t have a coat and it was way down in the fall…” Its a warm line about a cold time of year from a ballad about a little girl from the mountains whose mother made he a home-made coat out of scraps of fabric and called it a “Coat of Many Colors.”
On the first day of fall the temperature dropped from summer warm to autumn cool just like that. Suddenly all the fall chores sprang to mind and the days seemed shorter already. I remembered that I needed furnace filters. I started thinking about swapping the mower deck and the plow and when the leaves will turn and when they will peak and how many days into November until they have all blown down and how many times I will need to rake this fall and will there be clear days warm enough to do it before the leaves are buried with an early snow. And what happened to this summer—the summer of the bikes has come and gone so fast it’s bittersweet out on Bittersweet.
How is it in your neck of the woods and where is your place on the earth where you listen for God’s voice in the turning seasons?
September 26, 2022