Saturday, October 01, 2016
Friday, September 30, 2016
This is the season of last things, and how poignant they are in their shapes and colors, in every fiber of their being.
The last antique roses are blooming in our garden, the last ripening tomatoes cling to their vines in the veggie patch, and the last purple grapes dangle in local arbors. The last vibrant scarlet Virginia creepers wrap old wooden fences in the village, and the last crimson berries sway on our hawthorn. Maple, oak and beech leaves from old maples flutter through the air like birds, coming to rest on benches in the park and the chilly dark earth below them.
As much as I love autumn, this season always takes some getting used to, and I am working on it again this time around. Many farewells were said this week, and I tried to remember, too, to say thanks to the myriad entities who enriched our lives this year and are now passing away. Bumbles, dragonflies and cicadas - wherever they alight in their journey, and whatever they come to be the next time around, may they all be well and happy.
At first light, autumn hedgerows wear spiderwebs from here to there, swaying and glistening and hung with dew like pearls. I remember an October morning a few years ago when a neighbor in the village rang our doorbell a few minutes after sunrise, breathless and wide-eyed and ecstatic. While walking her dogs in a nearby field, she had discovered a vast and dewy orb weaver's web that I just had to come out and capture with Pentax and macro lens. My friend is now in an assisted living accommodation, and I think of her whenever I pass the cedar hedge where we stood wondering together at the break of day, as happy as two hoary old clams can ever be.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
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
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.