Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday Ramble - Autumn

This week's word comes to us through the Middle English autumpne and the Old French autompne, thence the Latin autumnus, and the Latin likely hails from even older Etruscan forms.  The first part of autumnus (autu) probably originates in the Etruscan autu, related to avil, or year. The second part of autumnus (mnus) comes from menos meaning loss, minus, or passing. There we have it. At the end of our etymological adventures is the burnished but wistful thought that another year is ebbing, another circling in what I like to call simply, "the Great Round," the natural cycle of our existence.

September is about harvest and abundance, but it is about balance too. The Autumn Equinox on September 21 is one of the two times in the year when day and night are balanced in length. On that day, (also called Mabon or "Harvest Home"), the sun seems to pass over the equator on a journey southward, moving steadily away from us who live above the 49th parallel. Things are actually the other way around of course, and it is the earth and her unruly children who are in motion. Between the Midsummer Solstice and the Winter Solstice, our planet's northern hemisphere tilts away from the radiant star at its center, and we stalwart northerners go along for the ride.

The magnificent constellations of winter are starting to appear, and the dome of night is a treasure trove of deep sky wonders, a gift for stargazey types like this Old Thing. Last night, a tapestry of stars covered the sky from here to there, and Jupiter and Saturn dazzled in the southern sky, borrowing light from the sun and acting for all the world as if they were stars, not planets.   The waning moon was not visible until a few minutes before midnight.

This morning, Beau and I were out in the garden again before sunrise, and it was cold. Orion, our favorite autumn constellation, was up and clearly visible in the south, the moon shining above it and slightly to the east, the red giant Aldebaran to the west. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, danced in the east, just above the horizon. When the sun rose, the stars vanished and every roof in the village was sewn with sequins of dew. With mornings like this, can one feel anything except rich as Croesus and jubilant in spirit?

On early walks, falling leaves drift around our ankles and make a fine rustling music.  Earthbound foliage on the trail is going transparent and turning into stained glass in splendid buttery colors.  We pause to look at all the wonders around our feet, and it's a wonder we ever get anywhere at all. When I stopped to look at a leaf in our path this morning, Beau looked up at me curiously. I started to say that I was looking for a perfect leaf, then stopped and started the sentence over again.  Pristine, unblemished and golden, or faded, tattered and torn, every single autumn leaf is perfect, just as it is.


Barbara Rogers said...

Good to hear from you...experiencing both midnight and pre-dawn...hope you get enough sleep! I miss seeing night skies. May try again whenever there aren't the mists and clouds these mountains capture so often. With frequent bear visits at night, I will be using my trusty phone flash light before I even get to my car (just past the bear's favorite target, the trash bins.) Then I can drive to the lake and see more sky!

Tabor said...

Yes, not a beginning or an ending but a circle.