My thinking bench


The late August and September heatwave coupled with the lack of rain had my hopes of a colorful autumn fading. The dust on my truck was thick enough to plant potatoes. It looked like the leaves of too many trees were turning as brown as tobacco and falling to the ground. Then a few nights ago, I heard salvation drumming on the roof just before dawn. It was a soaking rain.

Some people complain if it rains for more than an hour, but I love rainy days. It seems to cleanse my spirit.

Today I took a break from writing when the clouds thinned, and the rain slowed to a drizzle. Gazing out the window, I thought that a walk in the rain might clear my head. Grabbing my hat, I opened the door. Ol’ Hook, the bulldog that adopted us, almost knocked me down running out the door. I guess he had cabin fever too. 

A few steps down the barn road and he jumped a deer. Like a flash, he was off through the hollow like a shot. I used to try to call him back up, but I could holler until I was hoarse and that dog would not slow down a step because he’s as deaf as a post.

All along the barn road were signs that fall was near. Crimson sumac leaves had blown onto the road along with poplar leaves the color of fresh butter. The quality of the light also seemed different. Maybe that’s what sent the hummingbirds south.

Down at the barn is a persimmon tree draped with a muscadine vine. That vine has been on that tree since we first moved here in 1980. The vine near the ground is as big around as my bicep. 

The wild grapes ripen this time of year. The vines hanging from lower branches make the muscadines easy to reach from the ground. I stopped to pick a few choice grapes and shined them on my pants leg. When I held it up to the light, they were the color of a California Merlot. I popped one into my mouth, and the tart sweetness exploded. 

My thinking bench was a few steps away, so I thought it was only fitting that I sit for a moment and think about the changing season.

When I was a kid, there were only two seasons. Christmas time and summer. The other seasons were unending days between the real fun.

As I aged, I’ve come to enjoy all the seasons. One of my favorite songs of all time was written by Pete Seeger and recorded by The Byrds entitled, Turn, Turn, Turn. Seeger lifted the words from the Bible out of the Book of Ecclesiastes. 

The words resonated with me the first time I heard the song in October of 1965. They strike even closer to the marrow now that I’ve gotten older. 

It’s sobering when I realized that time is running out on all the dreams that I promised myself I’d do one day.  One day is now. 

This is what I thought about on this rainy day in September while sitting on my thinking bench.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on You can contact him via email at