Coffin: September Song

Sep 2, 2015

Redwing blackbirds came late last spring, getting here just in time for my wife Sue to see them, on what I think was her last ride up to Berlin Pond.

She was gone before the Canada geese arrived, dead on a soft night in mid-April. How she would have loved that family of geese I watched this summer, a dozen fuzzy babies proudly swimming with their prouder parents. As August arrived, I stopped by the pond and, unthinking, slammed the car door. The noise sent a small flock of good-sized Canadas riding up the west wind. Early, I thought, for them to be gathering. Then I realized it was that family of little ones, all grown up.

This rainy summer has passed too swiftly. But it’s produced some magnificent evenings, cloud walls riding in from the west looking like the Himalayas, white-topped with reds and pinks on the lower slopes. Would that I could at least have told her about them.

Now fall comes on, a happening Sue and I always welcomed by going out to two of a Vermont September’s highlights. The old music of Randolph’s New World Festival made for us our year’s happiest day. I’ll be there again this year.

Then comes Tunbridge Fair’s four days of joy. On Sunday, as the fair’s last day slid away, it became our tradition to ride the Ferris Wheel. Looking down, year after year, on the white clapboard village and fairgrounds set in that loveliest of valleys, it seemed that the hand of God must have been at work.

This year I’ll take that ride, seat empty beside me, I swear I will. “Oh, go on dear,” she’d say. Rising above Floral Hall and the grandstand, I’ll catch a hint autumn’s approach in the maples slight tint of red and, perhaps, a whiff of wood smoke on the fast-cooling afternoon air. Yes, to everything there IS a season…

Soon as sunlight goes from the midway, I’ll take the hill road to East Randolph. I’ll ride with a thousand memories of 50 plus fairs, leaving behind the ghosts, like Wes and Mim Herwig at the Antiques building, and Wayne Allen announcing the horse and ox pulls. So many dear people, and one of them will ride with me in spirit.

Nearing the height of land I’ll stop for a brief look… back. Then I’ll go on down the west slope with the familiar ridge lines marching off toward sunset, leading me home to face the longest winter I’ve yet known.