Friday, October 14, 2011

A Bridge of Contemplation

Spiderwort in the front yard

"The short fall season, therefore, is a blend of both fatigue and melancholy, of final consolidation of the summer's gains and of preparation for the severity of approaching weather. It is a bridge of contemplation, of taking stock."  Michael Dorris, The Broken Cord

I have carried that quote in my commonplace book since 1989.  I know that only because I read The Broken Cord when it was first published. These days I try to remember to date my additions to my book, much like Ann Dillard's writing about wanting to plant a flag in time and say "now."

I stepped out on the deck early this morning, shortly after the day started to lighten. It had rained off and on throughout the night, so the air carried a pungent, wet tang of downed leaves and dead garden. I stood several minutes, watching the clouds scud to the east, hugging myself against the sharp breeze.

We are in our fall season. All over town, the trees are giving up their leaves in showers of red and yellow. Out front, the spiderwort is still blooming, grateful for the cooler, wet weather. It is a patch of purple-blue in an ever deepening puddle of leaves from the ornamental cherry.

Autumn is my favorite season, for the color, for the preparation for the oncoming winter, for the enticing blend of melancholy, fatigue, and contemplation. Yesterday I made a thick chili for our supper tonight. I awoke during the night to hear the rain brushing the windows and smell the chili threading its way through the house. When I came back inside this morning, its scent wrapped itself around me, replacing the raw smells from outside.

A walk to work these days is a walk with my nerves and senses scrubbed raw and laid open to the world. The poet Edna  St. Vincent Millay wrote of what I am feeling. The poem is God's World, the form is a sonnet.

O WORLD, I cannot hold thee close enough!
      Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
      Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag         5
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
      But never knew I this;
      Here such a passion is  10
As stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Like Millay, my soul is all but out of me. And there are many burning leaves yet to fall.


Sharon said...

What a beautiful poem!

I like fall too, but I'm not a fan of winter. So there is a bit of fatigue entering fall.

I live for Spring...I LOVE the freshness of it, and of course, the LIGHT. I suffer from S.A.D., and I'm not looking forward to entering that season!

see you there! said...

I like the poem. For some reason I enjoy the change of every season although in our temperate zone we can slip from one season to another without it being a big change. That's one of the things I like about being in the mountains, there are 4 distinct seasons there.