My husband drives our truck over the pebbled beach, and we park behind the weathered picnic table. Fogland State Beach is empty except for an oyster farmer's boat drifting aimlessly on its mooring.
Scanning the horseshoe-shaped cove, I spy a couple of vehicles in the distance dotting the sand.
Now we have Fogland all to ourselves. Yet I cannot help but feel sadness for those who have gone away. They think of this place as a summer resort and are counting the days until their return. But they miss so much in the interim.
Late autumn is far from dreary for us.
The author of over 50 books, Gladys Taber wrote about New England and its seasonal changes.
“I have never heard a single soul speak a good word for setting the clock back an hour,” she said. “Some of us only set one or two clocks back and keep on with our familiar schedule for a while, but in the end we give in. Nature, however, sets her own time schedule. She decides when the first white frost will come and when the geese go over and when the leaves will begin to drift down and when the hibernating small animals will feel the urge to snug down in their burrows. She brings the first heavy storms and turns the air to brittle cold. And, clocks or no, man follows her plan. Fire on the open hearth, storm windows, warm boots, furnaces clean, bird feeders ready – these mark nature’s timetable.”
The sea also reflects this passing. The Sakonnet is a deep navy blue, rocking back and forth in a gentle rhythm. Across the bay, Portsmouth is without its cloak of color.
My husband gets out of the truck and walks the beach. I prefer to remain snug within, sipping tea while I sit and ponder.
The quiet, open space in this in-between time or interstice reminds me of a musical composition. As a lifelong musician, I think of the Grand Pause.
The concert band rises to a crescendo, and then there is a sudden silence. The performers have come to a G.P. or Grand Pause, which is a notation over a rest indicating that they are expected to extend the silence until the conductor signals the beginning of the next note. The function of this pause is to create a period of silence at the discretion of the director.
Late autumn is like a grand pause.
Sunny summer days are but a memory. The colorful leaves in red, orange and yellow hues that lit up our world are now underfoot, brown and crinkled.
Dark, gray November days loom ahead, and the hectic pace of the holidays will be unleashed on Thanksgiving Day.
Winter hovers around the corner.
Yet, as I gaze at these familiar surroundings of sea, sky and sand, I see the simple beauty that lies before me and realize how essential it is to pause and take stock of the world around us. Late autumn offers us this gift.
The Great Director created a symphony and stage in which we are the players. We need to pause and reflect on the Master’s plan, and savor the silence of this brief interlude before the cacophony of contemporary life intrudes.
Take a rest.