Autumn has come to the north in this year of pandemic. It will be an memorable years; immemorable, actually. And it is winding down. It is autumn. Thanksgiving is coming, a constricted Thanksgiving. I will drive from Florida to Atlanta. I don’t really want to go that far at a time like this — or be on the road. But I agreed to do so to get people of one family together.
To mark autumn, though I am currently living in Florida, the sub-tropics, I would like to bring you something very brief from the late Henry Beston, the writer/naturalist who lived of an on for a couple of years in the mid-1920 in a 16×20 wooden dwelling he called Outermost House, two miles north of the Nauset Coast Guard Station, in Eastham on Cape Cod.
Beston escaped to his little retreat for peace and solitude, spiritually shaken by his experiences serving as an ambulance driver and in other roles during World War I.
This is how the chapter begins that’s called AUTUMN, OCEAN, AND BIRDS
There is a new sound on the beach, and a greater sound. Slowly, and day by day, the surf grows heavier, and down the long miles of the beach, at the lonely stations, men hear the coming winter in the roar. Mornings and evenings grow cold, the northwest wind grows cold; the last crescent of the month’s moon, discovered by chance in a pale morning sky, stands north of the sun. Autumn ripens faster on the beach than on the marshes and the dunes. Westward and landward there is color; sea-sky, the dying grasses on the dune tops’ rim tremble and lean seaward in the wind, wraiths of sand course flat along the beach, the hiss of sand mingles its thin stridency with the new thunder of the sea.
I have been spending my afternoons gathering driftwood and observing the birds.
May we, like Henry Beston, find peace and perhaps some valuable solitude in this late autumn of a difficult year.