Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Frost

First of October.
5:30 in the morning.
Cold. Dark.
Over Frosted Cheerios, orange juice, and super-hero vitamins,
I terrorize my 6-year-old son
with a threatening breakfast table reading
of "Little Orphant Annie".
His eyes grow round and his brow furrows
with the visual imagery
of 'two great big black things a-standin' by her side....'
A questionable celebration of every Hoosier schoolchild's birthright
to hear, know, and love
these poems in the autumn of the year.

Hurrying out the door,
my husband's paintings stacked in the hall,
ready to be delivered to the Riley Festival art competition.

The van needs washing
for our appearance in Saturday morning's parade.
Defroster ad wipers cooperate
to create and clear slush from my glazed windshield.
My boy's ghostly breath hangs in the air.

Speeding to school along backroad Indiana.
not on sheltered front-porch pumpkins,
but in scattered patches across yards and fields,
a crazy-quilt of fragile, frozen lace.

I cross the overpass on the shoulderless country road
and look boldly into the brilliant orange orb of the rising sun,
tinted leaves burnished by early morning light.
Cars rushing under and on
their lights yellow eyes in the shadowed dawn.

We speak of cornfields and soybeans we pass.
Is harvest near?
Is there yet sheet of green in those husky, rusty tossels?
I reach awkwardly back for his small hand
and he meets me halfway.

What a fine thing it is
to be alive
on this first frosted morning of October,
and to live in Greenfield on the cusp of Riley Days.
To hold a warm hand in the chill of the air
and see the beauty of change.
What joy I feel with each brisk inhale.
How fortunate to be old enough
to understand and appreciate.

My rhymeless homage is unworthy of that great Hoosier poet
with his homespun homilies and sentimental musings.
I know not if I have captured his essence with these nostalgic words
but I certainly share his delight and wonder
of a fine, first frosty morning in October.

C. Schaefer

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love it.

    I was named after a James Whitcomb Riley poem. And now I live in Greenfield. ;-)