Dear Sunday Letter friends,
I’ve driven across Arkansas the past few days, and I can report that harvest is in full swing back home in my northeastern corner of the state. Watching combines cutting rice, seeing cornfields ready for harvest, and walking through fields of cotton with bolls beginning to open—I never miss a chance to return home to the farm.
Signs of Fall
Along with harvest, I’ve been seeing so many signs of fall. Yes, the daylight hours are becoming noticeably shorter; it seems to take much, much longer for the sun to rise in the morning. Red spider lilies are popping up in surprising places, and the trees are beginning to show a tinge of fall color all across the state. Driving I-49 back to Fayetteville yesterday was glorious!
If you open your eyes, you might notice how nature is busy providing subtle hints of approaching fall.
Birds and insects and frogs are beginning to sound and behave differently this time of year. The cicadas have stopped singing, leaving crickets and frogs to provide much of our dusk and dawn music. Be sure to fill up those backyard feeders because the birds have begun migrating. I noticed (and heard) lots of migrating geese when we were in Missouri last weekend. The goldfinches have returned to feast on dried seedheads.
The squirrels are scrambling as the prepare for winter. A few days ago while I worked at my desk, a squirrel busily dug in our planter box and then thought he’d try to come inside and chat with me. Maybe he thought we could spare a bookshelf corner for his nut stash?
Even though he was a cutie patootie, I told him to keep his business outside please.
Mushrooms have begun popping up in the woods, which is a sign of cooler, damper temperatures. This time of year in the Ozarks, you might find chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, and oyster mushrooms which are edible. I don’t advocate mushroom foraging unless you know what you are doing—many mushrooms are poisonous.
Whether you are foraging for food or cool photography material, mushrooms sure do provide an interesting subject.
Heavy walnuts have started dropping from our trees. The loud noise they make when they hit our neighbor’s tin roof shed is like the crack of gunfire. Squirrels, start your engines, fall is nearly here. Also, seeds are exploding from coneflowers and black-eyed Susans providing a smorgasbord for the goldfinches.
Our chrysanthemums and asters will soon be blooming. Already nurseries are trying to lure us in with pots of happy-faced pansies. I will wait to plant mine in mid-October, because they don’t thrive during these last warm days of Indian Summer.
What signs of fall have you noticed?
I heard the phrase soul-keeping last year while attending a nature writing retreat in Tennessee. Soul-keeping. Doing things to safeguard your soul and your spirit.
Being home on the farm is automatic soul-keeping for me. If memories were concrete objects that took up physical space, our house and farm would be overflowing, floor to rafters, soil to sky. Every nook and corner, stand of trees and curve of turnrow, even abandoned cotton gin buildings and the water tower in town—they all hold memories.
In the mornings, I like to walk around the rice field behind our house. It’s the best way I know to get my daily steps in while soul-keeping.
I unbury a bit of broken green pottery from the soil, wondering what it was originally and how it came to be there. I saw a gorgeous white egret standing at the edge of the field, so graceful, so large!
He was statue still until I walked too close.
Then he lifted off, flapping his wings, moving the air, flying to another nearby place to continue his search for breakfast.
Butterflies and dragonflies were likely curious about my presence, flitting around before landing in the rice and on soybean stalks in the opposite field. The place teems with life from the microscopic to the great, and I am always humbled to witness even a tiny glimpse.
Things Momma Says:
I don’t like coats, so maybe this is gonna be the winter of the vest.
Thanks for being here friends. I wrote this Sunday Letter super quick so apologies for rambling.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.