Photo Courtesy of Gaelsong
Everything started with the candle snuffer. My 16-year-old self had never been in the presence of one before, and yet there it lay in antique brass on the fireplace mantel, the handle, a spiral, and the utilitarian side, a trumpet flower. To my parents, vacationing at the lakeside cottage in October meant sipping burgundy and spending endless hours admiring foliage, but to my mind, the best part of the rental had to be the romance lurking in the possibility of unearthing the mysterious. A candle snuffer? At once I craved its secrets.
I rummaged through the enigmatic drawer in the kitchen. Every home had one, and this well-worn bungalow seemed no exception, the stash spot for the receipts, rubber bands, twisty-ties, and question marks. I snatched a loose match and a two-inch remnant of an ecru taper with a rumpled black stub of a wick and headed to the study.
The room housed a desk and many books. In need of a good dusting, the air hung as stagnant and yet as transient as a puddle in the sun, undisturbed as it slowly evaporated back into the obscurity from whence it came. A tarnished sterling candelabra with a court of well-worn cinnamon votives graced the desk. I illuminated what was left of the surrounding candles and nestled the taper within the depths of the silver shelter.
Then I waited for I knew not what. And I waited some more. Nothing. I distinctly remember thinking I must be doing something wrong. Too much light, I surmised. I drew the drapes, dragged closed the creaky door, reapproached the candlelit desk with the naive reverence of youth, and challenged myself to look again, to look deeper.
By all accounts it made no sense as the time of day would dictate, and yet I still maintain that an owl acknowledged my efforts with its gentle hooting song. Then on the canvas of my mind appeared swirling leaves of red and yellow flitting to the ground. Wistfully I traced their shared path as it led to the depths of the rain-stained earth. But just as they were about to dance into their final plummet three of them transformed into birds of silver and swooped back toward the Autumn sky. Spiraling about one another they glistened against the everything just in time to morph yet again into the sparkle of the sun now peeking from behind its cloudy veil.
I looked back at the candlelit desk and it was as it had always been, unchanged, but for me. I remember smiling as I snuffed out the candles. I grabbed a random book from the library, blew the dust from its spine and for perhaps the first time, joined my parents on the porch.
“What are you reading?” My father inquired.
Not sure myself, I looked down. “Through the Looking Glass,” I smiled as I opened my dusty treasure to page one. With the crisp breeze flushing my cheeks, I remember glancing at the trees. What beautiful fall fineries.