We are back home if not quite back in the swing of things, and are so busy getting everything back to normal it’s hard to think of anything else, but Harvard Forest sneaks up and grabs me by the throat when I’m not looking. It’s hard to believe I can’t just turn the corner and pull up to Benson House anytime I want. I miss it, miss all my friends new and old, miss the place absurdly and rather painfully. I imagine it grows more beautiful every day and those sugar maples must be about to put on a splendid show of color. I imagine a lot of things.
Oklahoma, bless its Southern heart, is putting on some welcome-home autumn finery, too, albeit a subtle variation of the Northeastern version; here the light is growing honey-colored as the days grow shorter and the prairie strikes those burgundy tones as the grasses flower and go to seed. The sky, however, is where the real action’s been. Grand storms cruise like frigates above the endless horizon. There have been very fine skies following the latest hurricane activity- Gustave and Ike both brushed past us and gave us good rain and great sunsets.
I spent nearly a week pulling giant weeds- there was a ragweed forest nearly nine feet tall surrounding the house and some of those stalks called for a saw; telling your housesitter not to worry about keeping up the garden while you’re gone for an entire growing season has some consequences when she takes you at your word. We’re back down to the bare dirt now, and the surviving plants suggest a Tex-Mex style garden: yucca and salvia and one desert willow.
Returning to my previous mash note: just so you know- this is an abiding relationship and not some harmless crush. I’m getting ready to send New England a bouquet of roses and a box of candy and ask it to marry me. So here we go again- some of my favorite things, part 2.
5. Teetering Rocks
People have put rocks to interesting use: stacked stone walls, house foundations, or just plain old whimsical cairns and balancing acts.
A Petersham cairn, at the Swift River preserve.
The latter seems to be popular for some reason. Has it always been so? This spring I found a cairn in the woods and it looked like a gentle breeze could blow it over but months later, the day before we left, I visited it again. All is fair and balanced in the Petersham woods. What is this obsession with balancing stones?
6. Whoopie Pies. A Maine traditional dessert to which Cindy introduced me. I’ve found them since at farmer’s markets and country stores, each made locally by farm wives sweating over hot wood stoves and packaging them in clean, natural cellophane. A whoopie pie is a pair of chocolate cake buns with a creamy white sugary filling. It’s a guilty pleasure, and one you should have at least once in your life, if not twice. What I don’t understand is how you can make one of these from scratch and have it taste exactly like a Hostess cupcake.
7. Really Weird Wildflowers.
8. Sugar Maples and Maple Sugar. Beyond wonderful. A grand tree of great strength and character in every knot and twist, it gives shade and sweetness in equal amounts and turns a glorious red hue every autumn. Plus I’m a sucker for pancakes with bacon and a fried egg on top, doused with maple syrup. I know I’m not the only one who does this. Anyone up for breakfast?
9. Friends. I am blessed with having many fascinating, talented, warm and loving friends. Some of them I’d known already, some of them became friends as soon as I met them, all of them are close to my heart. If you can have many BFFs (Best Friends Forever) in your life, quite a few of mine will come from the New England states.
10. Benson House. The sweetest little cottage in the lane, right at the edge of Harvard Forest, an artist’s retreat and a birder’s heaven. I think, of everything I love about New England, I will miss Benson House most of all.