“…that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”
–Ray Bradbury, The October Country
Every so often you come across something from your distant past that has long passed from memory. It could be a book, a song, a photo or some small insignificant memento, something once cherished but now tucked away in the piling up of time. Coming across such a thing after so many years illuminates how much that thing meant to you. In some cases, being able to look back at the years allows you to see that it actually influenced your way of thinking and, therefore, your life.
That’s how I felt this morning when I came across the short prologue, shown here at the top, to the 1955 book of short stories from Ray Bradbury, The October Country. I probably read this book last in the late 1970’s at a time when I devoured most of Bradbury’s books. His short stories were all great and interesting reads and Bradbury had a poetic nature to go with his active imagination, one that sometime revealed those feelings of isolation and fear that lingered at the edges of the mundane.
I don’t remember how I reacted when I read the words above forty years ago but reading them now, I felt like he was describing me. Or at least, describing the occupants of the world I depict in my paintings, those folks who, by extension, are built from parts of myself.
They are definitely the autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts.
Lingering in twilight, tucked in dark niches inside, facing away from the sun.
I went through a stack of old paperbacks in a closet and dug out my dog-eared copy of the The October Country. Leafing through it, I saw a few titles in the list of contents that I had circled eons ago. I don’t remember doing this, of course, but I obviously saw something in it that made me do this.
One was titled The Wind and turning the pages to that story I was greeted by a black and white illustration for the story from artist Joe Mugnaini, who often worked on the Bradbury books of that time.
I didn’t recognize or remember it but even so, it had a familiarity that made me smile. My own wind-blown trees often resemble the manner in which Mugnaini shaped this tree.
I found an image of it online and am sharing it here. Maybe it was not only Bradbury’s words that influenced me forty some years back?
The mind works in weird and wonderful ways, eh?
The post above is from four years back. Felt right this morning. It goes well with this week’s Sunday Morning Music selection, which is October Skies from Mumford & Sons.
Good song for the Autumn people among us.