A Reason None of Us Knows







…I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows…

my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun
~W. S. Merwin from “The Love of October” from Migration


This warm wind gusts through shedding branches
stripping them bare
and carrying the leaves yards
far away, to a diverse gathering
they have never known:
chestnut, cherry, birch, walnut, apple,
maple, parrotia, pear, oak, poplar
suddenly sharing the same fate and grave,
each wearing a color of its own,
soon to blend with the others
as all slowly melt to brown.

There is lightness in the letting go,
for reasons none of us knows.








Take the Next Step



At sundown when a day’s words
have gathered at the feet of the trees
lining up in silence
to enter the long corridors
of the roots into which they
pass one by one thinking
they remember the place
as they feel themselves climbing
away from their only sound
while they are being forgotten
by their bright circumstances
they rise through all the rings
listening again
afterward as they
listened once and they come
to where the leaves used to live
during their lives but have gone now
and they too take the next step
beyond the reach of meaning
~ W. S. Merwin “To a Leaf Falling in Winter”



Tattered and Tumbling Skies

photo by Starla Smit
photo by Starla Smit
sunrise113The rain and the wind, the wind and the rain —
They are with us like a disease:
They worry the heart,
they work the brain,
As they shoulder and clutch at the shrieking pane,
And savage the helpless trees.
What does it profit a man to know
These tattered and tumbling skies
A million stately stars will show,
And the ruining grace of the after-glow
And the rush of the wild sunrise?
~William Ernest Henley from “The Rain and the Wind”

Yesterday a calm and steady rain
made more sodden a sullen gray dawn
when unbidden, a sudden gust
ripped loose remaining leaves
and sent them spinning,
swirling earthbound
in yellow clouds.

The battering of rain and wind
left no doubt
summer is done for good —
the past is past.
I hunker through the turbulenceto await a clear night when once again
heaven empties itself into
a fragile crystalline dawn.



Changing Clothes

photo by Josh Scholten

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.
Henry Beston

The change of seasons this week offered no gradual transition to ease us gently into autumn– three months of daily sun and balmy temperatures became gray, rainy, windy, stormy cuddle-down cold overnight.   It is a terrible shock to our physiology as well as our wardrobe.  Sweaters and jackets that have not seen the light of day for months are suddenly front and center in the closet.  Sandals are shoved way to the back once again.  Only last week I was still sneaking out to the barn to do morning chores in my pajamas and slippers but now am trussed up in my Carhartts, gloves and muck boots.

Tough as it is reconcile to shorter days and chilly temperatures, I do appreciate the absolute drama of it all.  Golden leaves dance up and down in the gusts, as if searching for the exactly perfect landing and forever resting spot.  The fallen walnuts inside their round green husks are scattered everywhere underfoot well hidden among the leaves, making navigating are yard’s pathways hazardous, especially in the dark.  I’ve never been good at walking on marbles and these are ping pong ball size marbles.

So all bundled up I pick my way carefully to the barn, wanting not to be embarrassed by falling flat on my face and or by watching trees stripped naked right before my eyes.   As they unceremoniously shed their leafy coats to reveal their skinny skeletons, I’m piling on layers on over my…. layers.

I’m treading on their sacred leavings, much like inadvertently walking across poorly marked graves at a cemetery.   It is truly holy ground.

photo by Josh Scholten

The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn

~John Muir