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.