"A mist on the far horizon, an infinite tender sky, a haze on the golden cornfields, and wild geese soaring hight." Is it any wonder the poets worship autumn, the culmination of the year? In the spring when buds are bursting, seeds, swelling, leaves unfolding, nature cries "Push, ;push!" In the midsummer, when the sun pours its light-giving rays over the teeming earth, it says "Rush, rush!" But now, at ripening time, the message is "Hush, hush!"
Homeward bound, Margie Ruth and Jo and I feel the benediction of the season. We skim the pavement hardly conscious of movement, so richly soothing is the world. Baby Jo, delighted at being able to sit up in his basket, beams on what little part of the universe is visible to him, but Ruth and I are abundantly alive to the glories round about us. A piercing blue sky arches above, the level fields roll away to either side, alternately black-velvet plowing and tawny stubble-field and green baby-wheat; the fields of ripened corn, like multitudes of ash-blonde maidens, sway and rustle in an ethereal dance; and on the far horizon the timberland, fairly sodden with color, rises out of purple shadows. It is as though vast subterranean paint-vats had boiled over, as if a volcano had thrown up geysers of color to set and glaze in this autumn air.
I know a place where the trees arch over a bridge so thick and yellow this time of year that they almost burn, and remembering it, I say to Ruth, "Shall we take the Beautiful Road home?" To my surprise, she only murmurs, "No: just go straight ahead." And, turning, I see that her eyes are full of dreams. Drenched in this beauty, she is following mythical paths of thought, apart from me. There was a time, not so many years ago, when she would have cried childishly, "Oh yes, and then by the Crooked Road, mother, where there'll be lots of color!" But now she is too old for that. Isn't she 12 years old and in the eighth grade? Perhaps she is thinking, "This time next year I'll be in the midst of all the marvels of high school, with football games and boarding in town, and lots of girls to chum with, and who can appreciate how wonderful it all will be to me?"
So I drive over the bridge with the gorgeous yellow arch, and one big perfect yellow leaf drops to the black water and floats away. I muse, "How cheerful it is to see a lot of leaves scamper and romp in the wind, but how melancholy to see one lone leaf let go of life!" But I say nothing to Ruth of such things, for she is lost in her dreams. I turn beyond the bridge and take a "cut-across" byway that we seldom travel. It used to be an adventure and a hilarious surprise to turn here, but Ruth scarcely notices now. Then we come to a queer little place where a lane dips out of sight under dense shrubs. Such an old-fashioned little road, so out-of-the-way that it doesn't know that yellow is all the rage and is still wearing its last-summer green! We have never dared try this road, for we don't know whether it has an end; we used to like to think that it dipped right down into Brownie-Land. But today, in a droll spirit of perversity, I boldly turn. She pays no attention! Truly she is a child no longer; she is adventuring out into worlds of her own. Within a few rods we suddenly emerge from the shrubbery into level land, and behold, we are on a road that carries no mystery whatever; we are headed straight for Our Own Road, which is so familiar that it gets no special attention, and so we trundle home, in silence and in peace.
Precious little girl-child; little second self! Traveling the fascinating road of Growing-up! Little do you realize how much of my own life you re-live for me. In those next few years how many new roads you will be trying! You will think you are are blazing new paths, so strange and wonderful life will seem. Little will you realize how near our mother is to you, how much she understands. I want you to live your own life, to stand on your own feet. But no matter how many roads you travel, nor how far, real roads and dream roads, may we travel the Home Road together! --Hope