On a sunny October day, the Townsend Tunnel shines like gold – one benefit to living on a former cow path that intersects Townsend Road, sometimes impassible due to ditches and pot holes from rain and thawing snow flowing downhill.

However, whether descending or ascending the mile lined with ancient maples, the same awe catches me by surprise mid-October. Truly, who could not praise this remarkable biological miracle?

No matter the hours I invest in creating lovely landscapes, I cannot turn a maple leaf from green to gold – and I cannot stop frost from blanching my hostas overnight.

Now, no offense to hosta lovers, but my gardens and I would be entirely content without one plantain lily, another name for hosta. Their greedy leaves soon overcome peony blooms and low growers like primrose; and their puny blooms aren’t worthy of real estate or a vase.

Yet, I left a pair of hostas by my front porch which frost claimed several drizzly nights ago. Afterward, Marilyn, a high-school friend, arrived at my door for lunch. “I cut back my hostas already. Was I supposed to wait until they turned color?” she asked.

“I don’t think it matters,” I said and gave her a long hug. After all, I hadn’t seen her in three years. And that was in Big Boy “for old time’s sake.”

I led her into the kitchen. She surveyed the room as a friend who spent many hours at my table, and stood by the sliding glass door. “Your yard looks so different.”

“It’s amazing how trees grow,” I said, the sugar maples in succession of peaking red and shedding leaves. “Do you like asparagus soup and spinach croissants? Apple crisp and ice cream is for dessert.”

“I’ll eat anything,” Marilyn said. “The boys love my pumpkin Blatchinda, similar to a croissant. It’s a German dessert my mother made. The boys asked if I could bake Blatchinda with apples.”

I’ve never met Marilyn’s twin grandsons, for their family lives near Kalamazoo. Several years ago, Marilyn and her husband Mike sold their home in Romeo and moved nearby their daughter, son-in-law, and boys Ben and Charlie.

Marilyn and I viewed the hill she once mowed for another lavender field soon after she retired from teaching. Later, she drove away to visit her baby brother who’d suffered a stroke. I remembered Jerome as a teenager whose siblings called “Varmint.”

I also recalled Marilyn’s mother, Rose, cooking in her kitchen. My friend uses the same Blatchinda recipe from her mother’s cookbook published by The North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia.

That evening, I strolled down to the hen house in the dark. A star glittered in the east. Jupiter? Venus? Then the Big Dipper caught me by surprise in the north of heaven’s dark vault.

Dear Reader, I praised another benefit of living on a country road in October. As Joseph Parry wrote long ago, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other’s gold.”

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.