Autumn HollowAutumn Hollow
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07 October 2005
  Just the Right Name
I was always a fearful kid—I was afraid of heights and roller coasters and anything that dropped and worms and snakes—and it's just seemed to have gotten worse as I get older. My claustrophobia gets up to panic stage now and I even get upset during CAT scans, which isn't a good thing as you get older.

I have been wavering from full goose bozo optimistic on this house deal to so-in-a-rut depression that I want to sit and bawl my eyes out. I suppose the worst mistake we made was falling in love with the house in the first place. The feeling of "home" was clear enough in the original model we saw, but when we got into the Dubois we were both just gone. It wasn't just the design or the newness, it was that unmistakable feeling of wanting to wake up here, to snuggle here, to shelter against rainstorms inside and sit on the porch and say hello to the neighbors. At once it was brand new and yet as comfortable as an old shoe.

And I am simply terrified that something is going to come along to make it all fall apart.

But I did a small thing today, a small leap of faith just for me, one that tied in with the previous post about the Country Sampler magazine article about the woman who had her house decorated for autumn all year long. When I showed the picture to James, he shrugged just the way he had when I told him I wanted to name a budgie "Pigwidgeon."

"So what's to say you couldn't do it?" he asked. As simple as that.

For a couple of months JoAnn crafts store has been carrying these signboards in two sizes, one about a foot long and another about eighteen inches long. They're either in an olive green or a leaf orange, and come with little painted wooded representations of maple leaves, oak leaves, acorns, and pumpkins that you can fasten to the signboard. The idea is that you do a cute little motto, maybe "Fall Welcome Here" or "Pumpkin Patch" or "Scarecrow Place" and hang it up over your fall decorations.

One of the things I've always loved about reading British books was their wonderful custom of giving houses names: Lilac Cottage, Rose Cottage, Marsh Manor, Talboys. The custom didn't catch on here except with the rich or down at the seashore, where folks gave their summer cottages cute little sea-oriented names. I've always wanted a house with a name. But what to call it? Names are important.

One name I'd always loved was from Mary Stewart's Merlin books, the home Merlin makes for himself in his old age, Applegarth. Apples are indeed a fall symbol, but it didn't seem to symbolize the scope of the season. "Autumn Acres"? No, all I could think of was Lisa and Oliver Douglas. :-) "Autumnhurst"? Hmn. A bit...pretentous.

And then I thought of the owls and birds nestling in the hollows of trees...the little hollows in the woods where the deer and the wild things make their homes, safe in that cozy space...imagined the hollow drifted with the scarlet and saffron and tangerine and terracotta and lemon and purple of fallen leaves...

"Autumn Hollow." As simple as that.

So I bought one of the smaller orange signs and an acorn motif to go with it (there are acorn motifs all over our living room now). And, if it all happens, that's what will go on the sign, in the entryway, to welcome everyone to our home.