Fall Lasted 5 Days

This picture is from my first art class with instructor Toni Reese from 2004. It will always be one of my favorites and on my “happy” dresser. It’s a pen and ink with rouge paint.

I look forward to fall each year which marks the end of harvest. This year our fall leaves were spectacular but even if the calendar says winter isn’t until December, we are hit with an early snow storm.

Part of the fun of writing a novel is the researching. Since Stephen Atwood lived at Plymouth Colony after arriving from England, this is where the research went. Governor William Bradford was an English Puritan separatist. He went to Leiden, Holland to escape persecution from King James I of England. He was on that first ship to Plymouth Colony, the Mayflower in 1620. The Governor kept records some of which were weather related.

Here are excepts from his notes:

28 days after the storm, the people pulled out about 100 sheep from a snow bank, which lay 16′ high, drifted over them. 2 were found alive, kept by eating the wool of their dead companions. When they were taken out they shed their own fleeces.

A man had a couple of hogs, which he thought dead but on the 27th day they made their way out of the snowbank where they had fed on a little tansy.

The wild creatures of the woods descended towards the seaside. Deer in the deep snow couldn’t run in defense and became prey; not 1 out of 20 escaped. Especially the foxes made nocturnal visits to pens, where the poor ewes big with young were terrified with their frequent approaches. Sparrows all disappeared.

The orchards were very damaged. The snow froze in a crust as high as the boughs of the trees and split them into pieces. The cattle walking on this crusty were a dozen feet from the ground and further fed on the trees and damaged them. Vast heaps of shells were driven ashore after the storm as the ocean was in prodigious ferment. The cottages were totally covered in snow with not the tops of the chimneys to be seen.

In 1724 a drought made the vegetation look like a fire had passed over it.

1735 Caterpillars nearly destroyed the foliage of the forests. Carriage wheels were dyed green as they crushed them on the roads.

1740 epedimic of throat distemper. The winter was tedious and the rivers were frozen over in October. On April 4th the snow was still so deep sleighs could pass over the fences.

1746 an early frost cut down the corn.

Our farmers are hit again and again with weather related problems of drought, too much rain, hail, frost and snow. Sometimes the winds shell out the crops before harvest. Through it all they persevere just as these Puritan ancestors did.

I’ll try not to complain about this early snow storm. I have a warm house, food in the cupboards, gas in the truck and warm clothes if I do have to go outside. Today I will beside a cozy fireplace and read and read some more. But I really will miss having a nice long fall this year.

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