I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature. And the green grass strewn with a few withered leaves looks the more green and beautiful for them. ~Nathaniel Hawthornefrom The American Notebooks
After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth… The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her… In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible. ~Elizabeth George Speare from The Witch of Blackbird Pond
If I were a month, I would choose to be October: bathed by a genial and friendly sun, within a kindly and homely nature, slowly withering, yet still crisp, with mild temperature and modest temperament despite a rain and wind storm or two, only once in a while foggy.
Most of all, I would cherish my flashes of burnt umber as I reluctantly relinquish the light.
I save my love for what is close, for the dog’s eyes, the depths of brown when I take a wet cloth to them to wash his face. I save my love for the smell of coffee at The Mill, the roasted near-burn of it, especially the remnant that stays later in the fibers of my coat. I save my love for what stays. The white puff my breath makes when I stand at night on my doorstep. That mist doesn’t last, evaporates like your car turning the corner, you at the wheel, waving. Your hand a quick tremble in a brief illumination. Palm and fingers. Your face toward me. You had turned on the over-head light so I would see you for an instant, see you waving, see you gone. ~Marjorie Saiser “I Save My Love,” from Learning to Swim
Mist is ephemeral~ evaporates as the light comes out, unable to bear the heat.
Not so you.
I am grateful you have been beside me all these months of stay-at-home, never wavering nor wishing to be somewhere else.
So we now have confirmation: love that lasts stays close when all else dissipates.
A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains – a melancholy nature. The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.” ~Henri Frederic Amiel from The Amiel Journal
What is melancholy at first glance glistens bejeweled when studied up close.
It isn’t all sadness~ there is solace in knowing: the landscape and my soul share an inner world of tears.
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A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains – a melancholy nature. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail. ~Henri Frederic Amiel
What is melancholy
at first glance
when studied up close
in the right light.
It can’t be all sadness~
there is solace in knowing
the landscape and I share ~a state of the soul~
an inner world of tears
nevertheless forever illuminated.
And when the Sun comes out, After this Rain shall stop, A wondrous Light will fill Each dark, round drop…
~William Henry Davies from “The Rain”
I wouldn’t mind mud in August, just once, to see what is brown become lush and green overnight.
How sweet it would be to see copious tears spilling unchecked from a shrouded heaven.
Instead I must settle for one morning of northwest drizzle. An emerging sun illuminates these perfect round spheres with wondrous light as they roll off leaves and petals to huddle puddled together in community on the ground, only to evaporate by mid-day.
However, the wait for rain is never too long in this land of mush and mud ten months out of the year.
Rain will come sooner than I can imagine; soon again I will see a glistening crystalline reflection of the universe in a droplet.
The Living Water is always undimmed, its taste ambrosial.
A waning November moon reluctantly rose, dimming from the full globe of the night before. I drive a darkening country road, white lines sweeping past, aware of advancing frost in the evening haze, anxious to return home to familiar warmth and light.
Nearing a county road corner, slowing to a stop, I glanced aside where
a lonely rural cemetery sits expectant. Through open iron gates and tenebrous headstones, there in the middle path, incongruous,
car’s headlights beamed bright. I puzzled, thinking:
lovers or vandals would seek inky cover of night. Instead, these lights focused on one soul alone, kneeling graveside,
a hand resting heavily on a stone, head bowed in prayer. This stark moment of solitary sorrow,
a visible grieving of a heart illuminated by twin beams.
This benediction of mourning
as light pierced the blackness; gentle fingertips traced
the engraved letters of a beloved name. Feeling touched
as uneasy witness, I pull away to drive deeper into the night,
struggling to see despite
my eyes’ thickening mist.
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense. Let fall your shadows on the sundials, upon the fields let loose your winds.
Command the last fruits to be full; give them just two more southern days, Press them to completion, and chase the last sweetness into the heavy wine.
Who has no house now – he will never build. Whoever is alone now, long will so remain; will stay awake, and read, and write long letters and wander the alleys up and down, restless, as the leaves are drifting. ~Rainer Maria Rilke “Autumn Day”
This sadness that fall brings
is less about the ending of a long hot dry summer
and more about deepening shadows,
the fullness of harvest,
the drifting and dying to self.
I am misty in memories
of children dressed for school
eating around a full kitchen table,
of chores done hurriedly on frosty mornings,
of afternoons darkening too early
from drizzly clouds,
of nights under heavy comforters.
Lord, it is time. Too soon, too soon.
Help ready me.
The air was soft, the ground still cold. In the dull pasture where I strolled Was something I could not believe. Dead grass appeared to slide and heave, Though still too frozen-flat to stir, And rocks to twitch and all to blur. What was this rippling of the land? Was matter getting out of hand And making free with natural law, I stopped and blinked, and then I saw A fact as eerie as a dream. There was a subtle flood of steam Moving upon the face of things. It came from standing pools and springs And what of snow was still around; It came of winter’s giving ground So that the freeze was coming out, As when a set mind, blessed by doubt, Relaxes into mother-wit. Flowers, I said, will come of it. ~Richard Wilbur “April 5, 1974”
As the ground softens, so do I.
Somehow winter freeze was comforting
as nothing appeared to change,
so neither did I,
staying stolid and fixed.
But now the fixed is flexing,
steaming in its labor,
and so must I,