Just like that, the weather flips from summer to fall. The warm, sultry days of walking around Topsmead in shorts and sandals, sitting on the benches in the shade, and the FTSF volunteers working overtime with water tank and solar pump to keep the butterfly garden well-watered are suddenly over. Now, pull out the wool sweaters and fleece, the wool socks and warm hats, sit in the lee of the wind in Topsmead’s walled garden and feel the rays of the sun warming your face.
After being in the one hundred plus degrees and blasting sun of India for most of September, I felt that weather flip most definitely when I returned to the Litchfield Hills and my first October walkabout at Topsmead. It was the morning after that first frost. The blades of grass were etched in frost and the leaves of the ground covers were outlined in silver. My boots were blazing a trail through the frosty grass, but my light-footed poodle made nary a mark.
At the end of my travels in the Rajasthan province of India, I attended a traditional Hindi three-day Indian wedding. The colors were eye-deafening. The bride told us foreigners that we needed to dress colorfully, and indeed we did. The main color blasts were red, yellow, and orange. And the turbans...! So many men in multi-hued turbans with fabric tails hanging down behind them. The bride wore a cardinal red and gold sari. (White is the color for funerals in India.) Orange, the color of welcome and celebration, was omnipresent in the garlands of fresh orange marigold blossoms that welcomed the wedding guests, lined the walkways, and festooned the tables.
While my return to the crisp weather of fall was a bit bracing, my return to the colors of New England in October was visually easy. The Indian wedding outfit colors followed me home and were beginning to explode in the fall foliage: red firethorn, yellow aspen, and oh those orange maple leaves, so intense that the air was almost orange.
Upon my return, I felt a kinship with Miss Edith and the Burrell sisters because they, too, were international travelers. As I snuggled under my down comforter in my cottage that first evening back, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they, too, were happy each time they returned to Topsmead from an international trip—Lucy back in the fragrance of her flower cutting room, Mary relishing the over 2,000 books to choose from in the cottage bookshelves, and Miss Edith satisfied with the familiarity of her horsehair mattresses under their embroidered tree of life coverlets.
It is comforting to know that wherever our lives take us, Topsmead and the legacy that Miss Edith so generously bequeathed to the people of CT will be waiting for us upon our return.