Glorious Autumn Approaches!
Glorious autumn approaches! We're almost to October and last weekend ushered in fall. It's my favorite season so I'm happy. I was born in October and autumn has always been my favorite season. I love the crisp chill in the air, the fabulous leaf colors, the pumpkin and scarecrows, Halloween, and all of the seasonal favorites, everything from apple pie to chili!
Autumn often makes an appearance in my novels and stories. Here's a very seasonal excerpt from Small Town Love Story, out earlier this year from Rebel Ink Press.....
If she lived to be a hundred, like her great-grandmother, she would never forget that glorious autumn afternoon. That Wednesday defined perfection with a clear, deep turquoise sky that vied with flaming fall colors for attention. Rae loved autumn and claimed it for her favorite season. When the nights turned cold but the days remained warm with just a hint of a crisp cool, she came alive after the somnolence of summer. Something about the vivid shades, the hint of wood smoke carried by the wind, and the slower pace appealed to her inner self. Spring felt too capricious like a teenage girl uncertain of herself, summer always seemed too much like a society matron in full fashion foliage, and winter shivered like an old man who crept around the fireplace. Autumn, in contrast, offered a flamboyant gypsy spirit, beautiful color, and just enough wildness to be interesting.
Rae breathed in autumn like holy incense and delighted in the changing season with a pagan heart. At the local library where she worked, she brought the outside in with brilliant leaves of orange, yellow, gold, and red. She decorated bulletin boards with them and kept the blinds wide open so she could see the seasonal splendor in the small park down the block. Each morning she walked to work from her apartment, a few rooms tucked away in what was once a fine old family home, so she could revel in the autumn wonder. On this memorable day, she picked up her lunch bag and instead of retreating to the break room or going home, she strolled down to the park, delighted with the Indian summer warmth.
She sat on a park bench, munching her turkey and Swiss, gazing up at the sky, a blue so beautiful it hurt to see, and around with appreciation. Rae watched as a flock of geese patterned in a sharp v against the clear sky passed heading south, their plaintive call floating downward. A few squirrels scampered across the grass, collecting walnuts and hickory nuts to carry back to their nests for the coming winter.
Just as Rae polished a bright red apple and took her first bite, movement in the grass caught her eye. She glanced up and gasped, the piece of fruit stuck in her throat for a second. As she managed to swallow, her contentment vanished into a stark, sudden terror as she watched the large copperhead snake writhe in her direction. If she didn’t hate snakes, maybe the brown hourglass pattern against the lighter beige might be beautiful but all serpents, harmless or not, scared her even more than spiders. Her mind sprinted in three directions as she debated should she sit still, move, or stand up on the bench where she would be, she hoped, out of reach should it decide to strike.
If she moved, she feared it might slither toward her with a greater speed because it moved faster than she could have imagined now. As her librarian’s mind tried to recall just how far a snake could strike, it gained ground until the space between it and her narrowed to less than two feet. Rae thought if she tried to stand up on the bench now, she might draw its attention or worse, fall onto the creature. In desperation, she looked around the park but on this fall weekday few people had leisure to enjoy the outdoors. Two senior citizens chatted near the street and a single mother pushed a stroller toward the swings.
By then, the copperhead moved so close she swore she could hear its skin whisper as it traveled across the grass and her mouth dried up like a mud puddle in the sun. A shadow fell across her and she whirled, startled to see a man dash past her toward the snake. Maybe he didn’t see it, but Rae had to warn him so she recovered her voice.
“Hey,” she yelled. “Watch out, there’s a copperhead right there!”
He didn’t turn around and she couldn’t be sure he even heard her but as she watched, he leaned down unafraid and grasped the snake behind the triangular head in one large hand. Then he caught the thrashing length with his other and captured it. Rae gasped, first with fear then with appreciation for his fearless skills. As he stretched it out, she gauged it to be at least four feet long, larger than she thought and she shuddered at how close it got to her.
“Thank you!” she called. “That was amazing. What are you going to do with it?”
The man looked up at her and grinned. “I’ll take him to my truck, toss him in a five gallon bucket with a lid, and drop him off in the woods before I go home tonight. Is that all right with you?”
Rae nodded. “Sure, unless you just want to kill it or something.
He laughed. “Aw, there’s no reason to kill it just ‘cause you’re afraid of it.”
She stood up, braver now that the snake was in his hands and under control. “How did you know I was scared?”
“I sat right over there,” he said, pointing back to where another park bench rested beneath the tall evergreen tree the city lit each year to kick off the holiday season. “I watched you and I thought for a minute or two you might panic and get bitten. So I came over to catch the snake before you got hurt.”
Rae liked his voice, low-pitched but very male. She looked up at him, admiring his height that made her look small. He fit into his work worn, faded jeans as if he’d been poured into them and his simple T-shirt molded to his chest like it was tailor made. His sandy hair flecked with golden highlights that the sun caught and brightened touched the nape of his neck in back. His grey eyes noted her interest and stared back, with apparent enjoyment.
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