Corn fields ready for harvest along the Kal-Haven Trail

What is more beautiful than a day in September? Today the answer was, “nothing!”

I am looking out the window in my office right now as the sun is setting in the west, lighting up the weeping willow tree that has doubled in size since we planted it three years ago. Straight ahead, the last roses of summer are blooming, adding a splash of red to the landscape. Along the flagstone path to the rose arbor, pink sedum flowers wave on long stems next to the Autumn Flame Red Maple tree.

Of course, I think of Keats’ “To Autumn”

John Keats (1795-1821)



SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

I’m listening to these same autumn sounds, thousands of miles and almost 200 years since Keats wrote these words. And I am remembering a perfect day.

The day began without benefit of alarm clock–at 8:30 a.m. After a light breakfast, Stuart and I drove to get our flu shots at the doctor’s office. No charge–covered by insurance. Then to Starbucks for a seasonal treat–Pumpkin Spice Latte and a copy of The New York Times. The sun inspired us to take our bikes to the Kal-Haven trail and ride to Gobels 13.1 miles away, eat at late lunch at our favorite spot, Jan’s Trailside Cafe, and then ride home again. The picture above was taken along the way. Here are a few more:

Stuart said, "Smile!"

Bright sunshine made sunglasses mandatory.

We shared the delicious fresh blueberry pie for dessert.

Stuart ordered “goulash” for lunch. I had a bowl of homemade ham and bean soup–excellent. We discussed whether the shape of pasta (such as the macaroni in his goulash) made a difference in the taste. Tonight on NPR we got the answer, “Yes, indeed.” Here’s the delightful All Things Considered segment describing the new book called The Geometry of Pasta, studded with fascinating facts (did you know that tortellini’s shape was inspired by Venus’ navel?) and lovely drawings.

Today allowed us many kinds of conversation, good use of our muscles, silence, revery, meditation, dreaming, good food, a chance connection with other bikers on the trail, sunshine, ripeness to observe in nature–harvest time, and above all, gratitude for all of the above and more.

We are so blessed by love and health, community and solitude, good books, good friends, family, our faith, and dreams for the future. But today was all about the present moment. We lived all 86,400 seconds in this one wild and precious day.

What does your perfect day look like? If you haven’t had one lately, describe it here; then go make it happen. Come back again and tell us what mischief you made.

Shirley Showalter


  1. DazyDayWriter on September 30, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I loved this … pictures, poetry, pie … the perfect combination! Spent the day editing poetry, so this is a pleasant diversion. Thanks! A good friend is visiting next week (haven’t seen her in 6 years), so there will be some perfect days then I’m sure! If you get time, fun things happening in SunnyRoomStudio @ — does the weather impact your mood, your productivity? Talking about the wind, in particular! Just a hint … 🙂 Hope there are many more perfect days on the horizon for you and your readers. –Best, Daisy

    • shirleyhs on September 30, 2010 at 1:10 am

      Daisy, I did stop by to leave a comment. We both seem to be highly influenced by weather. Last time we were on the Kal-Haven Trail, the wind was fierce, blowing down branches in our path and fighting us every inch of the way as we traveled west. This time there was very little wind and lots of sun. A very pleasant combination!

  2. Saloma Furlong on September 30, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Shirley, your day sounds absolutely divine! My perfect day would look very much like what you just shared… I haven’t ever been to Minnesota, so that would also be a treat. I love bicycling, good food, perfect autumn days, and good poetry.

    Thank you very much for sharing such an inspiring day.


    • shirleyhs on September 30, 2010 at 1:12 am

      Saloma, the Kal-Haven Trail is in Michigan. It connects Kalamazoo, where I live, to South Haven, one of the lovely resort towns along the shore of Lake Michigan. Hope you have many lovely fall days in store also! I’ll have to go check out what you have been up to lately.

  3. Rachel on September 30, 2010 at 1:50 am

    This post brought such a smile to my face, Aunt Shirley. Wow–you indeed captured quite the perfect autumn day. And that blueberry pie looked oh-so-delish! Glad you and Uncle Stu are enjoying the weather and all the little things that can make a day extra special! 🙂

    • shirleyhs on September 30, 2010 at 2:38 am

      Hi, Rachel, thanks for stopping by. That pie was fabulous! The goulash not so much, in my opinion. Fortunately, Uncle Stu was quite happy with it. My soup was first-rate. It’s an honor to make you smile–just like you make me smile when you write about the adventures of Gillian.

  4. Richard Gilbert on October 1, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Lovely, Shirley. September is a subtle month, at least compared with October, which always gets star billing!

  5. shirleyhs on October 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Yes, that’s the word, Richard. “Subtler.” Just a bare hint of color in the trees. Warm breezes with cool undertones. Insect and bird symphonies. A few remnants of summer in blooming bushes and flowers. Not spectacular like an oil painting. More like a water color. Thanks for the mot juste!

  6. GutsyWriter on October 5, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Love your new FRESH blog. It’s been a while since I visited and now you’ve made me dream of the Fall, which is not the same in California. At least I can think of my son in Ann Arbor during those descriptive moments you shared. Did you not have WordPress theme before? I thought so.

    • shirleyhs on October 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      Welcome back, Sonia! Does your visit mean that your revisions are finished??

      Yes, four seasons are wonderful. If only we could shorten the next one to arrive by about three months, then Michigan would be a perfect place to live. 🙂

      The new look comes from a new WordPress theme and the fact that wordpress is now hosting the blog also. I got hacked on my old blog. My dear son migrated everything to wordpress hosting.

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