You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or the silence after lightening before it says
its names—and then the clouds' wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles—you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head—
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.
from Smoke’s Way, 1983
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
On late September mornings, the village is cloaked and mysterious. The earth is warmer than the air above, and the meeting of the two elements turns otherwise mundane landscape features into entities fey and luminous. I almost typed "early autumn" in the first sentence of this paragraph, but as of the equinox a few days ago, autumn is properly upon us, and she is comfortable in her tenure of mist, rain, wind and madcap tumbling leaves.
Fog swirls around everything, draping the whiskery trees like a veil, smoothing hard edges and rounding the contours of house and street. The north wind scours leaves from trees near home, and they rustle underfoot as Spencer and I go along on our early walks. Out of the pearly gray and the sepia comes a sound now and again: rain beating a staccato rhythm on the roof of the little blue house in the village, birds conversing in the hedgerow, geese unseen in the mist and singing overhead. Doors open and close as sleepy residents collect their morning papers. There is the soft growl of automobiles and the rumble of buses, the muffled cadence of joggers gliding through the park, children chattering on their way to school, commuters heading downtown to work. Once in a while, we hear the whistle of a faraway train, usually only a faint echoing in the air.
On such mornings, the world seems boundless, brimming with luminous floating Zen possibility, soil and trees and sky and mist giving tongue in a language that is wild and compelling. Part of me is curled up and engaged in a slow breathing meditation, counting my breaths, in and out, in and out. Other parts are out there drifting along with the fog and so happy to be doing it. Emaho!
Sunday, September 25, 2016
I breathe in the soft, saturated exhalations of cedar trees and salmonberry bushes, fireweed and wood fern, marsh hawks and meadow voles, marten and harbor seal and blacktail deer. I breathe in the same particles of air that made songs in the throats of hermit thrushes and gave voices to humpback whales, the same particles of air that lifted the wings of bald eagles and buzzed in the flight of hummingbirds, the same particles of air that rushed over the sea in storms, whirled in high mountain snows, whistled across the poles, and whispered through lush equatorial gardens…air that has passed continually through life on earth. I breathe it in, pass it on, share it in equal measure with billions of other living things, endlessly, infinitely.
Richard Nelson, The Island Within
Friday, September 23, 2016
It's small things that engage our attention at this time of year, fallen leaves like confetti on the old wooden dock at the lake, woodland maples arrayed in red and gold, tall sunflowers inclining their heads and dropping thousands of seed children, damp furrows where a garden once bloomed and fruited, bronzey oak leaves on the trail touched by cold and crackling wonderfully underfoot in their earthy sepias and rosy creams, the way flickering sunlight bends and flows across our path on walks in the woods.
Lines of swallows congregate and chatter on telephone lines before migrating. Skeins of geese pass high overhead, and there are the steady wing beats and plaintive calls of loons saying goodbye and heading for warmer moorings. Great herons still haunt local waterways, but they will not be far behind the loons in departing. Beech trees in our woods are turning, and their copper leaves fall in burnished showers. Is it just me, or is there a restless melancholy spirit loose in the village and haunting the countryside in late September?
Far from last month's thoughts of salads and cold drinks, I find myself pondering soups and stews, corn fritters and gingerbread, the first McIntosh apples lovingly folded into a baked crumble with oatmeal, maple syrup and cinnamon. Thoughts of comfort food are a sure indication of autumn, all by themselves.
Life becomes quieter as daylight hours wane in the last quarter of the calendar year. Temperatures tumble, migratory kin leave, and we drink every blessed thing in like wine. Gloves on our gnarly paws, and collars turned up against the wind, we ramble and ponder and feast our senses on the colors, sounds and spicy fragrances of autumn. Then we come home to tea and toast and ginger cookies at nightfall. It's all good.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.
from American Primitive)