Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Friday, October 05, 2007

An' the Gobble-uns'll git ya

Given my Hoosier roots, Kristy has dedicated one of her excellent Every-Day-in-October-is- Halloween posts to yours truly. She posts Little Orphant Annie, by James Whitcomb Riley, our Hoosier National Poet.

Riley has a prominent place in my family lore. My grandmother read these poems to my father when he was very small, and if I were to dial his number right now and ask him, he would be able to recite all of Little Orphant Annie from memory. I've heard him do it many times, but the most memorable was before my grandmother died four years ago. They sat at the table together and each would recite a line, one after the other. It was a lovely moment of comity between two people so thoroughly alike they spent most of their time at odds.

Last spring, my dad sent the Kid The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley. I think he's ready to appreciate it now, but I think I'll start with Wortermelon Time, given his fondness for them.

Kristy's post, surprisingly enough, sent a zing of homesickness through me. I confess I'm not a huge fan of autumn in the northwest, I think simply because it's not what I'm used to. It's very wet, and while the colors last forever, it feels more like going straight from summer to winter to me.

Back in Indiana, that place caught in the nexus of south and midwest, autumn is a cool, gentle interlude before the gray settles in. The colors are many and brilliant. Pumpkins are everywhere, along with the pungence of deciduous deadfall. During autumn, a landscape that has not aged well -- where prairie flowers have been buried beneath monocultures of genetically engineered commodity corn and strip malls -- has a moment of glory returned. Pockets of the old and graceful Indiana are nestled here and there. The glacial lakes in the north and the endless hills of the south are all awakened and lovely in the fall.

I miss it just now.


kris said...

I like the poem - may have to find a book and read more. I also like your description of a midwest autumn - very true. We sometimes feel like if you blink at the wrong time, you miss autumn altogether - but if your eyes are open, it is indeed beautiful.

Trailhead said...

if you blink at the wrong time, you miss autumn altogether

It does sometimes feel that way, doesn't it?

Kristy said...

Oh, I hate that I made you homesick! My mission is to make you consider the PNW your permanant place (although I understand that this may not be meant to be). Tell you what, you agree to read some William Stafford, and I'll look more deeply into James Whitcomb Riley. Agreed? A little balance, that's all I'm saying.

Trailhead said...

Ha! I thought it was Ivan Doig!

You know, I was pondering the fact this afternoon that no matter where I am, I'll always have a longing for another place. The West has sunk its teeth into me, for sure. If I ever leave it, I'll pine for it too. Just like I pine for living in Florida in the winter, North Carolina in the spring, Indiana in the fall...

It's always something. I've lived in enough places that I've grown deeply attached to certain things, and I'll always miss them.

Lewis said...

What? You don't like our autumns here? But I know exactly what you're talking about, me coming from Idaho and all. Those falls were different, that's for sure. It is one of my favorite seasons. The dryness, the crispness, the shorter days....even the rays of the sun seem different, more slanted, more short. As they struggle to reach us. But they do. Hugs.