Out the kitchen window, I can see the golden hue beneath the lingering green of the grass. It’s set off by the burgandy gift of dogwood leaves. The light this morning – after a long night’s rain – is blue and soft, slanted just enough to bring all these colors into full show – the lighting designer of nature doing Her best work.
I love autumn. I adore it with everything that I am. More than any season, more than any experience of the natural world, autumn speaks to me.
And I find – as I always do with the most precious things – that words fall short.
Still, I ache to write an ode, to capture the glee of goats lifted from the burden of heat, the way they rare back and bounce heads with each other – all play and hooved joy. The chickens caper around their run as if their round bodies float even when they cannot fly.
The air whispers now – with leaf dances and the lightness of humidity gone south for a time – and I pull it breath over breath deep into my lungs, filling up after the long days of summer.
It’s as if the earth leaps tall after the days of sunshine long and temperature high. No wonder ancient peoples and farmers hold bright festivals in the fall. No wonder I am a farmer.
Now, here in Central Virginia, the leaves are just beginning to sequin themselves with color. Our sugar maple – soon to be a new farmer’s sugar maple – has spangled her edges with yellow and orange. At our new place, we will plant sugar maples – I hope – along the drive to remember her.
I have not words for this joy, even as I wish those rugged men of romance could shout forward through the centuries to me. It is a romance I have with this season, deep and true.
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear! – Shelley – from “Ode to the West Wind”
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cider-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours. – Keats – from “To Autumn”
So when words fail, I wrap myself instead in the thing and find my way onto trails and on country roads with windows open – John Denver pouring from my lips with gusto. Meander sits beside me in the seat, her black nose curling story out of the air. And it is enough. More.
What are your feelings about autumn?