"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze."
John Updike, September
It's been a busy week, we had three rooms and the entrance way in our house painted, finished up a 8-week editing project, and worked on the last minute details for my trip back east. Now I sleep in a celery bedroom, a very beautiful shade of pale yellow-green that seemed like a good period color for a 1914 bungalow. The living room and entrance way is painted Hawthorne cream. I am drawn to New England colors. This morning I wrote a quick article on celebrating October. Last year I took a photo a day but I know with my busy school year ahead of me, that won't be possible this year. I'm pretty sure I posted this quote last September but I think John Updike really pulls together the greatest details for the month of September.
Today, with September almost over start a poem or a one page essay with Mr. Updike's first three words...the breezes taste...or if you're like me ready for October, start a poem or story with an October theme, for brainstorming try using Joe Brainard's "I remember" technique: Here's mine from last year.
- I remember buying many white paper bags of apples and the sweet smell when you opened the door to the unheated porch where we stored them all winter
- I remember their names McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, York, Newtown Pippin, and Red Delicious and how my mother knew what each apple was best used for baking, eating, or saving
- I remember I liked McIntosh the best, crisp, sweet and sometimes sour
- I remember the farm where we bought apple cider donuts, unfiltered apple cider, and large striped Amish candy sticks
- I remember that the farmhouse there was old with worn, wide planked wooden floors that moved and creaked when you walked on it and that the apple cider press was in the back of the store
- I remember my dad was always raking leaves and leaving piles for us to jump in
- I remember diving into a pile of leaves and just lying there for a while covered with the smell and the darkness until the leaves make you itch and it scared you for a second when you thought about being buried forever under the leaves
- I remember running through the dark on Halloween night with a pillowcase full of candy and feeling free and crazy and a little bit scared
- I remember the side attic in our bedroom where we stored the candy, the creak of the door and the smell of chocolate mingled with cedar and wool
- I remember the weight of the pillowcase full of candy, and how it could last until Christmas if you rationed it
- I remember getting to eat some candy when you got home even though you’ve been eating it all along the way
- I remember when everyone was afraid of razorblades in apples or candy tampering, even though very few people gave apples and they later found out it was family members
- I remember the commercials on TV and the warning parents were given to check all the candy and look for signs of tampering
- I remember looking for needle holes in my chocolate bars and asking my sister and brother if they thought this was one? Over and over again
- I remember stealing candy from my sister’s bag and wondering if she ever knew
- I remember sharing my birthday with my older sister every year because our birthday was only a day apart and close to Halloween
- I remember ice cream birthday cakes from Carvel and how you never got enough of the chocolate crunch layer
- I remember orange and black crepe paper, balloons, black cats, and the large paper pumpkin man my Nana put on the front door every October
- I remember when I didn’t want to trick-or-treat anymore; even though I thought that time would never come
- I remember the house where you would get comic books, they were all strewn on the floor and you could take as many as you wanted
- I remember being scared at one house where they always dressed in really good costumes and never said anything but just motioned to the pile of candy, it was a family and I wondered if they were really witches
- I remember loving the houses that gave good candy or said you could take as much as you want
- I remember I always picked Little Lulu, Ritchie Rich, and Archie comic books and I couldn’t wait to go home and look at them
- I remember reading the comic books lying next to my Nana in her bed
- I remember always wanting to dress like a gypsy or a princess, wanting red lips and a beauty mark
- I remember my brother’s costume when he was Popeye but that’s the only costume I could remember
- I remember the boxes the costumes came in with the cellophane cut out so you could see the mask
- I remember how you slipped the costume over your clothes and tied it in the back like a hospital gown and how the picture was drawn on the silky fabric
- I remember how weird and scratchy the plastic masks felt on your face and how hot they were.
- I remember how your voice sounded inside the mask, hollow and echoing and how you always wanted to stick your tongue through the lips but it had sharp edges
- I remember the pumpkin flashlights and the orange plastic bags that said Treats
- I remember the white paper bags with orange and black graphics on them that said Trick or Treat in a scary Halloween font sometimes they had witches or cats on them
- I remember the record album my dad bought for us, Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House, and how we would listen to it in the cellar with the lights shut off to scare ourselves over and over again The Haunted Mansion: Haunted Hits
- I remember being scared of the ladies voice that read the stories
- I remember how October smelt, tasted and felt although it doesn’t feel, smell or taste the same way unless I was home in Connecticut
Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag