It is October first already. Gosh, where did September go? I guess it got washed away by Hurricane Idalia and Hurricane Ophelia. Those hurricanes named after women sure are powerful. But knowing the legacy of Miss Edith Morton Chase as we do, we certainly are not surprised!
Not to be outdone by a few hurricane women, Mother Nature cooked up more rain, creating a state of emergency in NYC. Here in Litchfield, the Bantam River flooded some of the White Memorial Conservation Center trails. The boardwalk around Little Pond was underwater. Point Folly peninsula extending into Bantam Lake was even an island for a few days!
As I waited for the water to recede, my thoughts turned to Topsmead. Yes, it is on the top of Jefferson Hill, the highest point in Litchfield, but how did the grounds and the gardens fare in all of the runoff and the wind? The words that came to my mind were Wellie boots, soggy, and bedraggled….
Several mornings after, the landscape is recovering: pond overflow has receded; fall sedum is in bloom; the sky is blue. It is time to move onward to quintessential October and its peak fall foliage, pumpkins, and apple cider.
At Topsmead, October was the season to pick apples from the 300 or so apple tree orchard in Underhill. What to do with so many apples…? According to Bob Orintas, the son of Miss Edith’s chauffeur, Miss Edith gave apples to friends as gifts and had them delivered around to the neighbors. Sadly, that orchard is no longer.
As I think of the volume of that apple harvest, I wonder if Miss Lucy Burrall, who loved to bake and for whom Miss Edith designed the lower counters in the Topsmead kitchen, used some of the apples to make apple cake or apple pie or applesauce. Yum! Truly tastes of October.
By the end of the month, October's energy inevitably turns to Halloween activities: pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, and costume choices. (I am ignoring that Halloween candy appeared on CVS shelves in August!) As I think about children and Halloween, I have trouble imagining that the very private Miss Edith would have entertained neighborhood trick-or-treaters at Topsmead. Certainly not!
Now, despite October’s shorter days and sweater weather, let us layer up and go forth to enjoy the landscape and the trails of Topsmead, get our noses cold and our cheeks rosy, and then return home to warm up with some hot mulled cider (and oh, maybe a piece of apple pie à la Lucy).