Inside out.

I don’t get outside enough. And even when I do go outside, it seems as if I don’t really see it. I’m too busy thinking… or talking… or whatever.

But every time autumn comes I think about Robert Frost, and my mom—the ultimate outdoor fan.

I told you she loved babies -- I'm #6 and she's still smitten.

My mom loved the outdoors more than anything (except babies). She didn’t just like the outdoors, she believed in the outdoors – as if it were the one true thing that could bring you back to yourself, to your senses, to joy. When fall came, my mom would be so thrilled at the colors, the crispness of air, the drama of falling leaves, she would embarrass all of us horrid teenagers with her unselfconscious emoting, “Isn’t it just the MOST BEAUTIFUL fall? Isn’t it just GLORIOUS??”

Okay, she had a point.

Then when the snow came, she felt the exact same sense of amazement. She loved the snow so much, she would bundle up in her fake fur coat and walk for hours at night in the white silence (there might have been another reason for that). In fact, she was so eager to be outside–or just to deliver– she shoveled the entire driveway in Niagara Falls, NY the night before my sister Mary Lou was born. And in the spring, forget it. She was walking on air – in a delirium of amazement at the forsythia, the hyacinth, the daffodils, the tulips, the azalea, the rhododendron, the lilies.

Moving all my plants indoors -- an autumn ritual.

Clearly, I’m genetically required to pay more attention to the glories unfolding right outside my window. And to Robert Frost, whose poems I annually copied onto a homemade calendar that was the only really perfect gift I ever gave my mom. So in honor of Dorothy Mae and this splendid fall, here’s one for you from Robert Frost:

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

23 thoughts on “Inside out.

  1. This is a beautiful post, and the loving bond you had with your mom just emanates with every word. I wish mothers could live forever. I try to organize special “All About Mom” days with my mom for no special reason other than to appreciate her and focus my attention, where I whisk her away for a day trip or week-end. I took her on a trip to Boston to see Menopause: The Musical. I wasn’t sure how she would react to some of the more bawdy references, but she actually laughed the loudest and I knew she was having fun when she danced her way down the aisle to our seats. I am grateful for every moment I still have with her. Thanks so much for sharing your reminiscences. Robert Frost poems copied onto a home-made calendar as a gift; my heart bursts at the thought. Reminded me that my Mom day is a bit overdue…

    • Thank you Rufina!! I too wish mothers could live forever as it just about killed me to lose mine 25 years ago .. I love the way you treasure the moments you spend with your mum and wish you many, many more! Thanks for writing!!

  2. A lovely post. Your Mum sounds like she was a really wonderful lady. I love this time of year as well … good things have always happened about now … love, hope, prospects (with the occasional bit of illness and despair thrown in to keep me on my guard).
    Robert Frost is a great poet. He lived over here for awhile and spent some time in Glasgow before settling in England. Most people here refer to the Fall as Autumn but I have to say that I much prefer the term Fall … because that’s precisely what happens.
    I was looking at the wee snippets of inspirational quotes you have on the right so here are two more I really like:
    ‘I love writing but I just can’t stand the paperwork.’ (Peter de Vries)
    ‘The only difference between myself and a madman is that I am not mad. (Salvador Dali)

    All the best

    • Kris — Every single time you comment, I end up laughing out loud. I love the “paperwork” quote about writing – that is priceless! And thanks for sharing the news about Frost in Glasgow — I didn’t know that! And thanks, too, for appreciating my mom. She was pretty amazing — and obviously had a great knack for denial since she kept forgetting that adorable babies grow up into surly teenagers. Have a Happy Fall with precious little despair! Betty Londergan 2702 Mabry Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30319 (610-348-9279)

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your Mother Betty. I love the photo of your Mom with her kids. Also the one of the leaves through the window.

    Cindy, I don’t believe that you should keep your stories bottled up, because your Mom hasn’t gone away, her spirit is with you. You can can share gossip with her, and if you open yourself to it, and believe in it, you’ll get messages from her.

    My mom passed away a few months ago and I’ve had messages from her. I wrote a post on it

    • Can you believe that I’m taking all my photos with my i-phone now? Kinda makes you wonder why I went out and bought a fancy, expensive DSLR … but it’s for my travel so I got convinced it was necessary! The leaves through the arched window is in my third floor bedroom where I write — and it’s so magical that just the tippy top of the tree has turned scarlet & orange — and because I painted the dormers dark blue, there is this gorgeous reflection of the orange on the walls … i LOVE it! I really appreciated your comment to Cindy, too, because I know you just lost your mom (what a sweet relationship you shared!) and you totally know how it feels!! Betty Londergan 2702 Mabry Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30319 (610-348-9279)

  4. Robert Frost has always been one of my favorites. Thank you for reminding me to check out his writing again. Your mother sounds like someone I could have been friends with. You are so fortunate to have such lovely memories of her.

    • Anita, I really DO feel lucky to have such vivid and sweet memories of my mom. She was quite a force of nature .. in a literal sense. And I always felt happy that I could share my love of Robert Frost with her.. through my homemade calendars that also got me poring through all my poetry books again! It was a total win/win kind of present — which of course are the best kind!

  5. “Best of all he loved the fall
    The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
    Leaves floating on the trout streams
    And above the hills
    The high blue windless skies
    Now he will be a part of them forever.

    A hemingway memorial

    I loved this post…..and I adore your mom!

    • Oh, Indigo –I love that quote you shared with us! It makes me think of Montana and all my happy years out west! (I’m re-reading The Sun Also Rises so this is SO fitting!!)
      Have a happy autumn day!!

  6. So beautiful. I know that same feeling your mom had about the outdoors!! We get more rain then snow in the winter [except last two years] so I feel glum because I can’t get outside.

    • Hi Debbie — if my mom were around, she’d say — “oh, let’s go out for a walk in the rain .. all the colors will look even MORE beautiful!” So hey, get out there and it probably will change
      the way you feel about all that rain. (and p.s. I’m jealous. we’ve had no rain for months — and it’s depressing to have all heat, no rain, and unrelenting sun. Really!!

    • Oh, I have to check out your blog, Sherry — at — even if you are in the tropics and we’re not (but then again, we have autumn and you — not so much, which we will totally regret the minute winter sweeps in)…. ! So happy you liked my post — and yes, Cindy always gives good comment!

    • Thanks, Slam Dunk — it’s true! My mom was unbelievably physical. She did sit-ups every night, she was in constant motion every minute of the day, and she loved singing, dancing, playing games and
      anything that involved activity. She also was a total “fresh air” fiend and in January, we’d be sleeping with the windows open and be required to go outside and play– no matter how frigid the temperature.
      Yeah .. good times!

  7. “I wandered lonely as a cloud” still floats up in my magic eight ball window. Like every time I walk in the woods behind my house. I’m usually alone, and my kids don’t have to hear me say… “I wondered lonely…” because, and they should repeat, in unison, “Isn’t it WONDERFUL?”
    A hokey response to nature is what they got ,and it is up there with wearing seat belts on the top ten Mom list. Doubt they could list many more after Don’t Ask Mom for Cash. You must acknowledge Mother Nature and her awe someness! xoxo

  8. Betty—I really enjoyed your posting about your mother (with lovely photos accompanying it!). One month from today marks the one year anniversary of my own mother’s passing; something I find so hard to believe. I find myself wanting to pick up the phone to tell her something new; some new accomplishment, some new gossip about some celebrity, my opinion about whodunnit on the latest crime or missing person case. I keep those things bottled now since they no longer have that outlet. Tomorrow is my birthday and she always called me first thing in the morning. Now I just have to imagine that she’s silently calling down from a higher plane now.

    • Cindy — Thank you first of all for liking my photos! Coming from you, The Focus Queen, that’s the highest compliment! But I was so touched by how much you miss your mom … and her passing is so recent.
      The year after my mom died (25 years ago), I was a complete mess … I missed her so badly and I felt so totally betrayed by the fact that she could die…. it literally had never occurred to me that she would not be here on earth for me to see. However … HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU from all of us here … and I’m quite sure your mom is showering down love and blessings from above!

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