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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Down the silence solemnly... by Liz Flaherty

This is old. I'm sorry, but my creative brain is...resting this week. I wrote it in October of 2015. Since I still feel the same way about fall, and since I actually read this at a writers' group meeting just this week...

The title of this post is from a James Whitcomb Riley poem called "A Dream of Autumn" that sang to every sense I possess.

I had a writers' group meeting last week. We wrote about the senses and autumn. Since I don't have anything original to offer here, I'll show you part of my assignment. (We don't have letter grades there--a good thing, too!)

My office is in the garage and its door is probably 50 feet from the back door of the house. I make this walk upwards of 10 times a day. More if I’m restless or if the words are hiding from me. Less if my fingers can’t keep up with them.

Coming from the house, I look toward the east and west horizons to see if anything has changed since the last time. Are the beans out of the field? Did they spread manure—I can tell when they do. Are the suet feeders empty?

Going back to the house, I look down. For season-predicting wooly worms. For the nasty little black worms that come out in fall. To see if the cats’ bowls are empty. Again. To make sure I see the step that hasn’t moved in 10 years or so but still manages to trip me from time to time.

When I hear the noises, I know where to look to see the waving magic carpet of murmurations of starlings or the honking, straining vee of geese heading out for their long flight.

What I don’t hear will call my attention just as quickly, and I still know where to look. The deer will be sauntering through the lower slope of the side yard, slurping up water released by the geothermal system that keeps our house comfortable in all seasons. The cats will run down to join them, silent in their reminder that this is their yard, after all. The deer nod their heads in greeting—or so it seems to me—and go on drinking.

When darkness has fallen, its velvet cushion of quiet is often broken by sounds from the high school. We’ll hear the band on Friday nights when there are home games, kids shouting at other times. It never ceases to amaze me how loud and clear the voices are from two-point-three miles away. We laugh, Duane and I do, about our remote control bleachers.

Sometimes we are in the real bleachers when our grandson plays or our son-in-law coaches, or in lawn chairs at soccer matches where a younger grandson runs and kicks with unbridled glee and without mercy. There is much said about youth sports being too competitive, but the memories that are made on fields and gym floors and ball diamonds are not ones I’d want to give up. They are ones I still hear and feel and see and smell in the soft-crisp nights of autumn. Those memories are like the scent of burning leaves and the snap of fresh apples in their sweetness.

I have walked between the house and the office twice already this morning and am getting ready to make the third trip. The grass is still an optimistic green beneath the scattering of leaves, the marigolds and the mums raucously bright reminders of the brilliance of fall. The cats mutter as they eat the morning food they had to remind me at least three times they were waiting for.

The grain trucks are already rumbling over the roads this morning. The air smells of harvest time and makes me want soup and something pumpkin and desserty even though I haven’t had breakfast yet.

Soon I will walk on the Nickel Plate Trail. The leaves will crunch beneath my feet. I’ll laugh out loud and alone at the book I listen to as I walk. The air will smell so good. Feel so good.

It is fall in all its glory.

Although Life's Too Short for White Walls isn't new, Joss Murphy and Ezra McIntire's story is a favorite with me. It's set in a rural Kentucky campground, written with some of the sounds and not-sounds of above nestling in my writer's heart. They're in new places in their lives, battling the scar tissue we all carry after our worlds go wrong. 


  1. How lovely, Liz! I felt like I was there with you on this walk. Happy (early) Autumn!

  2. Replies
    1. Oh, thanks, Beth. I do love every day...some more than others...but every day.

  3. Makes me want to live in the country even more. Now that I live in the city with my corporate job, i can't help but feeling like life is moving at warp speed and I am going through the motions more than experiencing it. Just Beautiful!

    1. Oh, thank you. I've almost always lived in the country, and now that I'm...seasoned, the idea of leaving it makes my heart hurt. Although it will happen as things get harder for us to do, I'm good with putting it off as long as I can!


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