Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thinking about fall, even at the zoo

The red twig dogwood bush and a rainbow tree

November, when I picture it, is harsh and angular, colored gray and dull brown, with a chance of rain. It follows October, of course, a round, full month overflowing with red, orange and

yellow, especially orange. Is this because of the “N” in

November, which doesn’t hold a candle to the “O’s” in October

and orange, when it comes to warmth and coziness?

I spent two hours outdoors today, waving confused people toward a drive-through electronics recycling event, on a classic November day. Trees bare, except for one with little bunches of rattling brown leftovers; gray sky that only spit at us, offering to let the sun through and then reneging at the last minute. I was too cold for comfort. Yet, being alone with several kind of flora that were taking a break from being growing things, I got to see a lot that I liked. In this part of the suburbs some prairie grasses have miraculously survived, and they were reddish if you looked at them just right. That reminded me of my red-twig dogwood bushes at home, which are more beautiful now without the distraction of leaves.

This seems to be one of my tasks, living in the Midwest - to relish everything I can about fall and winter, not just because the promise of spring is lurking under the soil, but because they are fall and winter!

This is the last winter when I’ll be in my sixties, and somehow the seventies sound a little more autumnal. Of course, when I hit seventy, maybe it’ll only be the eighties and on up that sound like that, and the seventies will be, if fallish at all, then more Octoberish, with bright colors and abundance.

Here's a very accepting look at the season:

Autumn Song of Fearlessness

I am surrounded by a peaceful ebbing,

as creation bows to the mystery of life;

all that grows and lives must give up life,

yet it does not really die.

As plants surrender their life,

bending, brown and wrinkles,

and yellow leaves of trees

float to my lawn like parachute troops,

they do so in a sea of serenity.

I hear no fearful cries from creation,

no screams of terror,

as death daily devours

once-green and growing life.

Peaceful and calm is autumn’s swan song,

for she understands

that hidden in winter’s death-grip

is spring’s openhanded,

full-brimmed breath of life.

It is not a death rattle that sounds

over fields and backyard fences;

rather I hear a lullaby

softly swaying upon the autumn wind.

Sleep in peace, all that lives;

slumber secure, all that is dying,

for in every fall there is the rise

whose sister’s name is spring.

Ed Hays, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim

Thanks to Rose-Therese, who read that poem at the last SSC meeting.

And here's a more light-hearted approach to autumn, seen on pumpkin day at the zoo:

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