Robert and I got to know Susan and her husband Fred (who passed away a few years ago) when we moved from the southside of Savannah to the downtown historic district, just off Washington Square.
Susan was a beloved Savannah teacher and author.
Robert and I were fortunate enough to be married in the courtyard of one of those crooked little houses — the beautifully tiny house on Saint Julian Street where Susan and Fred lived—after they sailed the world and settled in Savannah, that is.
A while after Fred passed, Susan cornered us in the square one day and heralded us to her little house.
“Robert, I want you to have Fred’s old cashmere overcoat.”
It smells of adventure, travel and a life well lived.
We loved and love you, Susan Johnson. Tell Fred we said hello and miss his glorious stories.
Morning walking in Savannah’s Forsyth Park the other day led us, almost Alice-in-Wonderland-ishly, into the little old, hidden-away, walled and overgrown Fragrant Garden. I knew it was there, having walked by the usually locked entrance hundreds of times. But I had forgotten it.
I was pleasantly surprised to see from just inside the gate how many roses were still in bloom. Dozens of bursts of color. Isn’t Halloween nearly here? And the bushes were standing so beautifully tall! Proud, regal.
I was taken aback at my sudden jolt of happiness. And I thought of what my buddy Anne (you know, of Green Gables) told me one time: “Neal, I’m so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers.” What a perceptive young lady.
But (and just for the record, if you think about it, whenever someone says “but,” the words that follow are often not the most uplifting) my Fragrant World smelled a little less joyful as I realized that the bushes were so very tall because they had not been pruned nor tenderly cared for. And looking more closely, I saw that most of the blooms were beginning to lose petals, droop a bit and some were even whispering an elegantly tortured “goodbye.”
Fall has forever been my favorite season. Autumn isn’t so childishly young as spring, doesn’t exude summer’s arrogance, thinking itself so very hot. And fall doesn’t give you the icy stares and cold shoulders of winter. Fall is gorgeously colorful and aroma-therapeutically delicious.
But fall is also, of course, the season that recognizes, even blatantly exposes, her mortality as those leaves drift earthward, and annuals lose their colors and die, while the last rose of summer falls from her heights to the untilled soul in the Fragrant Garden.
Sad but a part of the universal cycle.
Celtic Woman expresses the sentiment beautifully in their rendition of Irish poet Thomas Moore’s 1805 poem, “The Last Rose of Summer.”