We’d just driven five days across the country that early November week– my mom, sister and I. Transporting me, and my meager belongings to a new life. Soon to be on my own for the first time.
Up and down mountains.
Across dusty roads with only a strip of life — in the form of one measly hotel, a restaurant and gas station — set against what looked to be a wide expanse of daunting, empty desert.
Through vast open spaces where the sky stretched on and on and the people wore friendliness like a kerchief tied jauntily around their necks and spoke with warmly pleasant drawls….greeting us even at fast-food stops as long-lost kin.
Past national landmarks that left our mouths in an “O.”
Fall was but a slightly cooler temp most of the way, but finally… as we pulled into what was to be my new state…still-stunning vestiges of a Midwest fall lit the highways like flames of fire against a charcoal-grate sky. Most of the golden yellows were now lushly carpeting the ground, leaving the dramatic beauty of leafless dark tree silhouettes… like etchings against the sky whispering to me of stories set in New England… Rip Van Winkle… and artwork like Norman Rockwell.
But here and there, even the barest of trees clung tightly to a few of their brightest reds, blazing persimmons. As if a gift just for me…an answer to my prayer that fall would hold on till we got there.
Have you ever noticed how the brilliance of autumn, the deepening contrast of lights and darks, makes the brightest of everyday colors we hardly notice all year long glow deeper, warmer somehow? The school-bus yellow lines on the road. The luminescent red-yellow-green of stoplights. The radiant apple-red of someone’s jacket. All this color-drama filled my artist soul, making me feel as if God were welcoming me to this, my new home.
Still, I had to swallow the fear in my throat. I’d never imagined myself moving so far from family, until visiting my close friend and her new husband the year before, and falling madly in love with the type of fall, seasons and countryside I’d only dreamed of before…
As we got closer to their home, I began to recognize landmarks through the misty rain. The sky was darkening, but so seemed the trees, glowing in the street lamplights now coming on. The tiniest of white dots hit the windshield… Was that…snow?
“There it is!” I pointed to the quaint home atop a small hill. The doll-house place situated above a lovely old antique shop (owned by a charming English octogenarian), where my newlywed friends now lived. A gloriously still-full orange and yellow tree, its trunk looking as if it had been painted black against its majestic umbrella of leaves, stood massively on their lawn… as if welcoming us under its sheltering arms.
If you remember the old Mary Tyler Moore show, picture the photo shot they always panned to outside of her charming apartment home (pictured here)… only more in miniature. Lovely old windows on either side of a chimney. White siding with black shutters and ironwork stair rails accenting. Once copper, now beautifully-greened roof overhangs, even a tiny cupola punctuated by a weathervane. Lights glowing within, like candles set in the windows to guide our way, and a lovely autumn wreath hanging on the front door.
The door opened on a hearty welcome…like finding a sweet old inn at the end of a long and winding road, and stepping into the warmth of a fire in the hearth, autumn-colored candles lit here and there, the scent of apples and something delicious wafting from the kitchen. My friend…even then gifted with a talent for adding just the right touches of seasonal warmth and charm…had lined the mantel of the colonial cream-colored fireplace with fresh fall leaves of every hue, the tiniest pumpkins and squiggle-shaped gourds I’d ever seen interspersed among them. A fun old teddy bear dressed for the season sat in the midst of it, an autumn plate on the other side. An old-fashioned candlewick fall design hung in an old embroidery hoop by the door… a cozy throw across her couch. Tiny vases filled with stems holding bright orangey-red berries. Simple touches…but beautifully cheery, bringing a coziness and warmth from the outside in…deepening the charm of the small but dear little room.
We dined on bowls of deliciously cheesy and creamy potato-wild-rice soup, homemade with bits of bacon and onion spiced through…sitting inside the lovely bay window in their open kitchen…delighting in the warmth of good friends, candlelight. The perfect end to a wearying, if exciting trip. A lovely start to my new life.
“Look – it is snowing!” my sister cried. Peering out, the barest flecks of white swirled in the rain. The last touch of fall… a glimpse into winter…
“Auuggghhh!” my friend sighed, goodnaturedly. From the same warm-weather state as I, she recognized my naïve excitement…having lived through a couple of those snows already.
“Oh…but isn’t it pretty?” Mom, my sister and I breathed.
All my life I’d loved the fall…even in a place where we didn’t have these vibrant seasons. I’d loved the rain, because it made it seem colder, more like winter. I’d loved the way the frost blows from your words on a cold-snap morning. Now…here in this place that simply celebrated cozy… like Anne Shirley, I knew I was home…
Has someone ever warmed your soul by inviting you into their home on a cold autumn day? Or have you yourself had fun creating that special ambience to greet your friends? Won’t you leave a comment and share a bit about it? 🙂
© Pam Depoyan
As I write these posts in celebration of fall, I’m linking up with Melissa Michaels at her beautiful inspired room.net where she has many warm and lovely ideas to make your home fall-cozy – see her welcome page for31 inspired days,
along with the rest of the “31-dayers” who are also sharing various month-long inspirations!
I’ll tag these stories under the category of “Autumn Leaves.” Let us open this seasonal book together to find those “roses” tucked within their leaves…
pen and ink drawing – mine. All rights reserved.