My mind takes flights of fancy at this time of year. I suppose it’s the glorious colors inspiring the artist within me. I closed my eyes today and pictured you, Rosa, in the autumn of your life…
I saw you, mid-morning on a clear fall day. You were hanging the wash and fretting about chores not done. A quick glance up at the sky confirmed what your aching joints were telling you. Blue now, but mare’s tails whipped and promised cold, fall rain.
A snap of a sheet and you continued your chores. Hurry, hurry, the words echoed in your mind, there’s still wood to stack and cover, the garden needs to be put to bed and Mary, dear sweet Mary, your daughter needed help with that brood of young children…
A soft breeze rustled the trees and carried the scent of lavender. And so you stopped. Busy hands held the damp sheet close as you took a deep breath. There, mixed with the spice of the lavender was the smell of fall. Dying leaves, a bite to the air and you knew this glorious day would not last.
What propelled you to stop your chores, drape the wet sheet haphazardly over the line and step away? Did your heart tell you what your body already sensed?
See, Rosa Blair, see how busy you are today and a fine, hard-working woman you are, yet, you should know, there are changes coming… the winter time of life approaches. Take this moment, Rosa, to enjoy the colors. Survival is not always enough. One must also find the joy.
And so you grabbed your shawl, tossed it about your shoulders and set off. No word to Henry, your husband, who split wood just across the field. Just following instinct, you walked down Summer Street with a hello to Maude, your sister-in-law, and yes, the children and see how they’ve grown. At the end, you turned right and pushed on to Lovers Lane. The colors would be best there, from maples trees that lined the dirt road.
A knee began to ache, telling you to slow, but you ignored it and pressed on. One moment, you thought, just one dang moment to be a woman. Not a mother, a grandmother, a wife struggling in rural Vermont. Not a woman who’d watched the ’27 flood wash away everything her family held dear…
You sought the rock, the large one on the right side of the road and autumn colors swam before your vision. Golden leaves from beech trees, orange from the yellow birch, but your favorite was the stunning, unnatural red from the maples. Late afternoon sun deepened the green fields and cast long, purple shadows across the cows that grazed so peacefully. More colors to wash your cares away.
And look at you, Rosa, you look ten years younger. Happy almost. No memories of lost children, grinding poverty, just this moment to sit and see and rest.
I like to think of you that way, Rosa, on that rock with sun dancing off the leaves above your head. I like to imagine your smile, soft and carefree as you wrap your shawl around your shoulders and breathe in the splendor that is Vermont in autumn.