So beautiful . . . the crunch of wind-felled leaves, and chestnuts harvested from beneath their tree in the park, just a few feet from our front door. No one else wants chestnuts, and the park lawn mower would destroy them if I didn’t get there first.
People stop and ask me what on earth I am doing. When I offer chestnuts to them, they ask, “Can you eat them?” Of course the answer is no—these are horse chestnuts, not real chestnuts as in “Chestnuts roasting o’er an open fire . . . .”
The next question is accompanied by dumbfounded looks. “So what do you do with them?” And my answer: “I look at them, and hold them. I have years and years of chestnuts all over our home.”
Now speech becomes abrupt, and the looks tend to get strained, as if the person who has paused in his or her stroll can’t get away fast enough. “No thank you.”
I do share chestnuts with visitors, if I feel the gift will be welcome. People who deliberately come to our home are not so apt to be freaked out by our lifestyle as those who whiz by on the park path. Children invariably love chestnuts, just as I did when I was a kid sitting in our front-yard chestnut tree in Chilton WI. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still a child. I never even began to grow up, and I certainly don’t intend to start now!
As you scroll down the page, you will see a plate brimming with some of this Autumn’s chestnut gleanings—gleaming like gorgeous polished wood. And you’ll see many other glimpses of life in Nashotah, at that season when we once again spend more time indoors. You’ll see tea party bits, some art, knitting, and some of our fun and funky home décor.
Joe and I are celebrating the many textures of Autumn, indoors and out.
And, in my estimation, the most painterly Autumn poem of all in our beautiful English language:
Ode to Autumn
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
- Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
- Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
- Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
- Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
- Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
- Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
- Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
- And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
- Steady thy laden head across a brook;
- Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
- Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
- Where are the songs of Spring?
- Ay, where are they?
- Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
- While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
- And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
- Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
- Among the river sallows, borne aloft
- Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
- And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
- Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
- The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
- And gathering swallows twitter in the skies
- John Keats