This week's word comes to us from the Middle English flete and Old English flēot, both meaning to float. In common usage, fleeting describes things that live for a brief time and pass out of the world swiftly, sometimes in twinkling of an eye. Synonyms for this week's offering are some of my favorites - cursory, ephemeral, evanescent, impermanent, meteoric, momentary, passing, transitory, vanishing, volatile, elusive, ethereal, gossamer, temporal, transient, transitory, vanishing, vaporous, volatile.
Autumn comes early this far north, and the Two Hundred Acre Wood is a different place than it was just a few weeks ago. Himself and Spencer and I wandered there for a few hours this week, making our way through windy, sunlit woods that seemed to go on and on forever, among groves of trees changing color, their falling leaves caught in branches or suspended on strands of spider silk, sometimes floating down to rest at our feet. A fey wind ruffled our hair, scattered acorns, pods and fluff in all directions. Goldenrod, milkweed and wild carrot (Queen Anne's lace) are going to seed, and they watched us pass, committing our journey and the season's turning to wild and elemental memory.
There are fine wild musics everywhere. I took my blackthorn walking stick along on our ramble this week, and it made a pleasant racket as it scuffled through the bounty at our feet. Wherever we went, we were accompanied by the wingbeats of geese flying back and forth between nearby waters and farm fields, by the exultant tumult of the creek in the gorge as it raced toward the beaver pond on the other side of the woods with its precious freight of liberated leaves and whiskery twigs. At such times, both creek and pond seem to be made of blue sky.
Stopping for a moment, we drank in the light slanting through the trees, and there was the clear sense that everything around us was fleeting and fragile and precious. It seems as though only yesterday we were rejoicing in the filtered emerald light of summer and contemplating our unruly rural garden. Now here we were in our woods, seeing all around us the clear, irrefutable evidence that another season is on its way.
The passing of the seasons is a powerful reminder that we are here in the Great Round for only a brief time, in our present form anyway. For a scant handful of days, we go walking through this world, and we blaze with life and spirit as we go, lit from within and throwing sparks like the starstuff of which we are made. Life is a glorious, fleeting thing, and autumn says that best.