House Diary: Lost Autumn

Fall 2023 has been a fairly dismal one for me, with total knee replacement surgery impairing my movements and limiting my decorating capability.  A month housebound in recovery isn’t conducive to getting out to see the sights, smell the aromas, taste the cider or pick the pumpkins of a Pennsylvania autumn in the foothills of the Poconos, and a Halloween shorn of all but the most recently-acquired decorations is certainly a huge step down from the norm at this time of year.  I haven’t even been able to carve a jack-o-lantern, for the first time in … well, forever.

CG pumpkins
Regardless of the available bounty, I limited myself to one small display of seasonal pumpkins and squashes in the kitchen this year

Despite my infirmity, life, and the waning of it in the natural world, goes on.  Fortunately I was able to get out for a preemptive farmstand strike just a week before my surgery, to revel in autumn produce, and as October fades and I’m back in the saddle, I can still get a glimpse of fall color and an infusion of cider, before it’s gone for another year.

fall garden1
As summer waned, I probably should have worked harder to edit the autumn natives, as the ubiquity of this plethora of wild aster panoply attests; at least the pollinators were pleased

But I missed much of the glorious riot of color which is autumn, even in my own garden, off limits until I was off the walker and more confident with the cane.  I’m just getting out there again now, and enjoying the dregs of what must have been a lovely month.

Outside, in the week before the surgery, I did a small installation for Halloween in the front yard, the first I have ever done there.  It’s simple but fun – a skeleton walking his skeletal dog on a chain, waving gaily to passersby.  Of the usual explosion of pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, mums and cornshocks by the garden gate, there is no trace.

fall garden9
I’ve waited three years for my cornus alternifolia (Pagoda dogwood) to provide the autumn color it promised, but it was worth the wait! Sadly, I wasn’t able to get out into the garden to take a picture while it was at peak, but even as it fades you can see the promise fulfilled

Similarly, the backyard and garden, usually populated with dozens of spooky denizens and several graveyards, is totally bare.  I did get some lovely color on the dogwood saplings, which I could view from the window, but didn’t get out early enough to get a picture at their height.  And the hydrangeas, in tones from fire red to purple-burgundy, are still not quite at peak, so I can enjoy their show.   But the goldenrod and asters are all but gone, and even the Montauk daisy, last to bloom, is fading.

Inside the story is much the same.  With the exception of a few plastic Halloween blow molds, nothing was brought out of storage, and I’ve had to be contented with the truncated décor of autumn, already pared down in early September with a view to my upcoming incapacitation, plus whatever new items I purchased for Spooky Season this year.

On a brighter note, I’ve had time to view most of the Halloween movies and specials that clutter the DVR year-long, but usually get only a token viewing in October.  It’s been fun reconnecting with this much-loved media, even if I’ve had to do it with my leg elevated and iced.

I know it’s a far cry from what you’ve come to expect of my autumnal seasonal offerings, but I offer for your enjoyment this distillation of the saddest Alex fall on record.

Ah, well, there’s always next year…

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

3 comments, add yours.

Irmgard Dering

How do you manage with all that pain? The skeleton with the dog, how did you ever think of that? Fantastic!
Get well…


Sorry you’ve been so miserable Alex but your Autumn showcase and Halloween decorations exceeded my expectations! Loved the new decorative pumpkins and headless horseman and agree the guy walking his dog is fantastic! Recognized favourites like the pet cat from other years. Somehow you’ve still managed to outdo yourself and you brought smiles to my face. Thanks Alex and feel better soon!


If this is a downsized version of your usual autumnal decorating extravaganza, I can hardly imagine a year of displays when you are unencumbered! So impressive and very entertaining, even in digital form. Thank you for this gift, and hoping your recovery excelerates!

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