“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

All my best memories of my childhood in Upstate are cloaked in the lengthening shadows of autumn.  Although the cooler climate of the Great Lakes is particularly attractive to a southern dweller in the height of our brutal summers, if you get a chance to go to the New England (and I don’t care a whit about the classification of NY as a “mid-atlantic” state, Upstate NY is most definitely New England), brave the chill and go in the fall. 

I arrived home from DC to a cold snap in Arkansas, and the red and orange leaves glint through the windows of my office.  In the evening from my front porch, the pungent smells of woodsmoke and wet leaves carry me back through the years if I close my eyes.

Missing is the sweet sharp smell of the apple presses and cedar, and the faint clear smell of the coming snows coming with the wind from the lake, blowing back my hair and biting my ears.  Missing is the achingly beautiful deep evergreens among the scarlet sugar maples and the golden paper birch, the colors disappearing a little each day until only the dark green remains, standing sentinel against the new silver of the early morning frost on the skeletons of the softwoods.  Missing also is that frost on the windows where I scratched my name as I competed with my brothers for footspace against the heat registers in the frigid mornings of our underheated house.  

Since developing reactive arthritis in  my mid-20’s, I cannot tolerate the cold.  My hands ache more now than they did in the days when I could play for hours in the early snows and never feel the cold, listening to the honking of geese in huge black V’s winging south over the sky.  On mornings like these, I stand for stolen moments in the shower, shamefully wasting water as I hold my hands to the hot spray so that I can button my shirt without pain.  And yet the chill wind passing over my cheek bones never fails to bring the warmest memories of my home.

I cannot convey to you the smells and the sounds of New York in the full glory of autumn.  But I can give you a glimpse of my memories.

Letchworth State Park


Candadaigua Lake


Genessee River

Grapes Near Seneca

New York apples - the absolute finest

Against my usual practice, I direct-linked these photos to give proper credit.  They can all be found here.

They change constantly, and may be as ephemeral as the season itself.  Go and see them before the winter sets in and that blaze of color is a memory of another fall passed.

October 29th, 2008 at 11:58 am
3 Responses to “The shortening days”
  1. 1
    jodifur Says:

    When were you in DC and you didn’t tell me?

    Maybe reactive arthritis is what I have?

  2. 2
    OS Says:

    Thank you for the beautiful post today.

  3. 3
    Deirdre Says:

    gorgeous. absolutely gorgeous.