Saturday, September 10, 2016

An Autumn Day

Columbia Spy is privileged to publish several articles by Columbia native Mike Clark, with permission of the author. The essays were previously published in The Globe Leader and 50-plus Senior News and will continue to be reprinted in the Spy over the next few weeks.

An Autumn Day
By Mike Clark

I feel rejuvenated by the sunshine; it’s been absent for so long. A string of chilly, gray days had driven me into a mild funk. I’m fine, now.

An occasional autumn gust strips the remaining leaves from the maples and oaks around the neighborhood as nature prepares the giant trees for a long winter nap. The colorful carpet beneath is blown downwind, relieving me of the dreadful chore of raking or firing up that infernal, high-decibel gas blower.

I ponder that humble blessing as I set fire to a layer of kindling in the wood stove. I’ll add a few chunks of hardwood and the fire will grow to a small blaze. My plan is to sit in peace before the radiant warmth as I read an old book—A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Those who know me will quickly detect the irony of my choice.

Eventually (maybe tomorrow), I will have to walk around the property to perform a late fall cleanup. There are fallen branches and small limbs to fetch; terracotta pots must be gathered and stored; and those leggy, desiccated annual plants must be plucked from their summer beds. It’s a job that probably should have been done weeks ago, but a weather-induced indifference set me back.

A tree-service expert extracted forsythia trunks from the corner of the yard last week. My wife and I cut the beautiful but invasive shrub as far down as we could, shortly after it finished displaying the bright, yellow flowers that make early spring seem warmer.

The bare spot must now be raked level while the earth is damp and loose. I’ll wait until spring to plant grass, of course. By then, that plot will have to be weeded. As the wind now clears the leaves, so too will it bring new weeds.

A plant stand that sits in front of the garage displays a few wilted mums and a large pumpkin that my wife wants to adorn with some kind of a turkey ornament. I wanted to remove the ponderous gourd, but my wife thinks it is in good-enough condition to serve as the anchor for our Thanksgiving motif. I’m fine with it.

It’s hard to believe that a Christmas display will soon fill that space. There’s no way to incorporate a shriveled pumpkin into that, is there?

Yes, I’ve got work to do. The air is brisk and the sunshine stimulates my dormant enthusiasm. The problem is that I am currently more passionate about my fire and my book.

The clocks have been turned back; the days will assuredly get shorter and colder. We’ll all find ways to steel ourselves against the inevitable driving snow and cutting wind. As for me, I have many books and a lot of firewood. I’ll be fine.

As published in The Globe Leader newspaper, New Wilmington, Pa.

Mike Clark writes a regular column for The Globe Leader newspaper in New Wilmington, Pa. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational behavior/applied psychology from Albright College. Mike lives outside Columbia, Pa., and can be contacted at

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