My “stay-cation” came and went like a dream, as did the quiet. Gladys Taber in “The Best of Stillmeadow” (1937) writes, “Perhaps after all our best thoughts come when we are alone. It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing, to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen. If we attend to the music of the earth, we reach serenity, and then, in some unexplained way, we share it with others.”
Gladys would no doubt be my soul mate if she were alive today. She was a prolific writer from about 1930 to 1980. Her final book was published posthumously after she had scribbled the last pages from her hospital bed. I guess she was desperate to share, and very often, especially when seasons change, I find myself desperate to reread one of her books.
From Gladys’ fall musing she says, “Weeds and old raspberry canes must be burned now. Cornstalks should be destroyed with fire to kill any leftover pests. We wait for a good damp day and get the permit from the fire warden, and then I have a nervous spell, being mortally afraid of fire.”
Gladys describes fall chores of cleaning out the woodshed and hanging laundry in the backyard on a bright warm day, adding freshness to soon-to-be stuffy rooms. As she sorts the blankets she’s reminded of her “quiet grandmother with her gentle voice and wise eyes.” And then of her Uncle Walter:
“He was a quiet man, self-educated, and in the paper business. Nothing glamorous or spectacular at all. And yet every life he touched had a glow from his touching it. When he died, even the Pullman porters who had been on the run he frequented on business trips made a personal grief of his going.
“What I remember most is when my mother died and a number of personal difficulties outside were crushing me, Uncle Walter took me for a walk after supper. … All he said was so simple and so short. We walked, and the light fell on him, and the shadows moved. The new-cut grass on the lawns smelled sweet.
“‘The Raybolds have always been heavy burden-bearers,’ he said quietly and as if that were quite to be expected and accounted for. At that moment, I felt myself one of a dim line stretching back and back, of people who went about their business and just bore their burdens. He never said another word to me about mine; and he just let me assume I was to bear mine in the family tradition. That simple statement has sustained me down the years.”
The Taber pantry supplies are checked in the autumn; staples must be on hand for days of snow. Onions from the garden go down to the cellar, and birdseed and suet are bought.
As I flipped through my own very sporadic journal I read where Jan. 8, 2015, the temperature was 10 degrees. I suppose it’s time I buy my seed and suet. We have no cellar.
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