Harvest time & October tales…

Cover of "Harvest Home"
Cover of Harvest Home


This morning, while reading through a few of the blogs I follow, I read a very enjoyable post from the blog Eagle-Eye Editor. (http://eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com) The writer asks the readers if we believe in ghosts and then proceeds to write about a strange experience that could be something of a ghost tale, or at least something hard to explain. After that, she mentions her enjoyment of the spooky stories of L.B. Taylor, Jr. Since I had not heard of this author previously, my curiosity has been aroused, and I will check his work out. And there is no better month than October to get the spooky stories of ghosts and all-things-weird up and about!

This also led to another thought this morning as I was enjoying my pancakes (with Michigan blueberries!) and coffee. I thought about why I love October so much, and part of the answer was right outside our sliding door. No more than 100 feet out is a golden cornfield, standing patiently, waiting to be harvested. Much farther out, all trees are colored rust, or yellow, or deep gold. Until now, they were rather plain and unobtrusive. Even the slant of the sun has realigned itself throughout the days, and the shadows of late afternoon seem different. The air is clear and good, summer’s heat and humidity gone.

The word harvest seemed to trigger something about October and the tales that are so good during the month. Perhaps one of the spookiest stories I read years ago was Harvest Home by Tom Tryon. Written in 1973, the book is certainly not new. A TV movie followed and was quite good, mainly because it is a good story and the cast was excellent. Bette Davis portrayed the strange Widow Fortune. It’s a creepy tale of a family from New York who chuck that lifestyle for a quaint and bucolic New England small town. What they discover, as the tale unwinds, is that things aren’t what they seem. I would recommend a visit to your library to locate this book. A search at Barnes & Noble or Amazon might yield results as well. Either way, Harvest Home is an excellent October read—before all of the Halloween and other standard fare is offered up later on.

I’ve always loved stories such as this one, and I believe that there is no better month than October—harvest time—to enjoy some all over again. I just pulled my old copy of Harvest Home from its spot on the bookshelf and shall be re-reading soon. And, thanks to Eagle-Eye Editor, I’ll begin my search for L.B. Taylor, Jr., and add him to my October reading pile.

It’s a great month to read those cool tales that keep us looking over our shoulders and wondering what that movement in the shadows was….CortlandWriter

Thanksgiving Season Has Arrived…

As I write this, a long freight train is slowly making its way eastward, passing brown, empty fields which, not so long ago, were resplendent with beans and corn. The harvest here in northern Illinois is all but finished as we wend our way ever deeper into November. In my recent drives through the countryside, I’ve noticed a few last-minute gleanings taking place. Yesterday (Saturday) was perfect for any of these last-ditch efforts: dry, clear, and mild. And I am always amazed how the landscape and countryside is completely transformed once all of the fields are “down”–put away for the winter, as it were! It is then, I think, that the approaching season of Thanksgiving has really arrived. 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and one which has truly become a family tradition year after year. For some reason many years ago, the tradition for my siblings and their families to assemble at our home every Thanksgiving weekend in Naperville, Illinois, began. Perhaps it was our central location: halfway between Ohio and Nebraska? Whatever the reason, Thanksgiving was to be at our home. And that proved to be very interesting down through the years as the little kids grew and the older folks aged gently and the tradition continued. It has always been a much-anticipated event. The fun and nonsense and family togetherness have been the main ingredients of our annual gatherings.

Now that the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews have grown and have married and have kids of their own, our Thanksgiving Weekends, the last few years, have been a bit less attended. I still do two big stuffed turkeys on the trusty Weber (charcoal only!), and there is plenty of cold keg beer out in the garage that we somehow manage to finish off without a problem. 

And as the freight train disappears far off to the east, sounding its whistle at the Airport Road crossing, I think back with many fond memories of Thanksgivings past and look ahead to a few more….MLA

October Shadows…

October Night Stillness

The day grows late and the darkness begins to creep in. Most of the fields have been harvested and lights begin to come on in farmhouses and barns across the now-cleaned fields. A kind of quiet peacefulness now rests over the land and only the sounds from the nearby Interstate break the silence of the twilight. Far off to the east, the water tower stands sentinel, its hulking shape overlooking the freshly-cut fields. Another day has come and gone, and quiet envelops the small town.

A month or so ago, the sun would still be setting, kids would be playing and shouting at one another in back yards, and couples would be enjoying an early-evening stroll around the streets of the quiet town. Now, the sun has long since vanished, the kids are having their bedtime baths, and the avenues and byways are empty–devoid of any walkers. The late-October skies are clouded and ominous. Sometime overnight there may be rain storms. The Shadows of the night grow darker–and spookier!

There has always been something I’ve enjoyed about this particular time of the year. Perhaps it’s the realization that summer has truly said farewell for awhile. Perhaps it’s the sun-filled mornings that so quickly give themselves up to sudden shifts to cloudy skies, strong winds, and chilling rains seemingly out of nowhere. And perhaps it’s simply the many changes that repeatedly go on all around us–especially out here in farmland–that we fail to notice completely or to which we pay very little attention.

Inside, it’s warm and safe and comfortable, perhaps a nice fire going in the fireplace; perhaps an annual viewing of Halloween for the millionth time! All around are strange sounds and little quirks of the night. The shadows of October are in full force, doing what they do so well. As always, the feeling that things “out there” are different now are ever with us. Before bed, we make sure that all doors  and windows are securely locked, and one final glance to check out the mysterious shadows of the October night is in order. It’s a strange and wonderful time…MLA