of what’s to come
Husband such a
Stay in the present
Enjoy every moment
It is fleeting…
Why can’t I
Why can’t I
be jolly with he
whom I worship
With each gust of wind yellow finger-like walnut leaves shower down on our heads– like large, yellow snowflakes– a foretaste of snowfalls to come. The sun’s shadows grow long as twilight nears. Soon the white cloud “lions and tigers and bears” will arise in the black of night. The summer has died, and in dying, gave birth to fall. The comfortable rhythm of the changing season beats in our sometimes unhearing hearts.
(Play music with video)
of the riot of color
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the holiday!
Happy Autumn to those who don’t!
Spare the turkeys!
A chill wind blows the yellowing leaves off the trees. They drift down to the ground like giant snowflakes. The air is pregnant with the feel of the coming holidays. Fall has truly come, with the sudden drop in temperatures, a full 10-20 degrees cooler than a few weeks ago. This is the real Fall, no faltering Fall, but a Fall that will guide us appropriately into winter. November appears as a mirror image of March with its vibrant color of decay, while March is the decaying color of about-to-burst-forth Spring.
The birds are at the bird feeder all the time now. They are not stopped by our presence when we come to fill the feeder or blow leaves under it. Nothing stops them. They swoop around the feeder and the surrounding trees like Kamikaze pilots, darting here and there recklessly. The squirrels are in a frenzy as well, stock piling acorns and walnuts which they will retrieve without fail in a month or so in a snow-covered land.
To me, the trees are most beautiful at this time of year, when many of them are bare and a scattering of leaves remain on dark brown branches. The leaves that remain quiver daintily in their precarious positions on the tree limbs. Yet these are the survivors. The other leaves have fallen and gone the way all living things eventually go. Most trees have lost all their leaves and they stand in stark contrast against the blue sky, the stormy sky, the grey sky. But I find them most beautiful against the night sky, with arms reaching up to the darkness, trying to touch the stars twinkling between the branches, as moonlight dances on their limbs.
November holds the last glimmer of color. A carpet of yellow lines the woods now– and one can see inside the woods that are so dark and impenetrable in summer. Some forests have carpets of oak leaves– dark brown tan in color. Others are paved with variegated colors– vibrant crimsons against yellows and faded greens and tawny tans. The un-mown lawns are now taken over by the spiders covering the fields. At precious moments, one can see a world of webs that only appears in a certain slant of sunlight and reveal a silent take-over by the spiders in webs that sparkle secretly, mirroring the infinite web of creation.
The yellow, brown, and crimson leaves are complemented by the ubiquitous yellow, brown and crimson mums that appear on the roadside near mail boxes, on porches or along driveways. These tough little flowers withstand frosty chills and stand tall throughout most of November– hearty, generous souls, so giving in their colorful, velvety splendor.
Halloween pumpkins begin to sag a bit or shine with wetness as if encased in glass. They will soon be tossed– pine combs, wreaths and fir swags to take their places, and the season of lights will begin. Anticipation hangs in the air. Autumn seems the fastest season to come and go. I try treasuring each moment, but the minute/hours/days just sift through my fingers like so many grains of sand. Then Christmas/Hanukkah comes and fades in a flash and we are into the Nor’Easter blizzards of January. Another year is gone and a new one has come. Would that we could be in forever in the season of love, but it is also a season of loneliness and loss and darkness. It is good we are defenseless against time.
Now, at Thanksgiving, it is our time to give thanks. Inspired by the Native Americans, let us thank the earth. Let us give thanks to the trees for their constantly changing beauty, to the stars for their piercing presence in the night sky, to the leaves for their inspiring colors, to the sun for its life-giving power. Let us thank the Spring for its awakening hope, the Summer for its warm, thriving growth, the Fall for its beauteous bounty, to the Winter for a time of renewal. Let us thank the soon-to-come snow for its hushed, white silence that transforms our world, to all the animals for their pure souls, to our families and friends for their precious love, and, lastly, but mostly, to the Higher Power of our belief for the macrocosm of creation.
Happy Thanksgiving and may you each be blessed with the all-embracing, pervasive, pulsating Love in Nature.
Beauty in Life
Death in Life
Beauty in Death
After awaiting September all summer, the month of the Autumnal Equinox came and is almost gone. I try desperately to stop time, clinging to each day, to no avail. These next few months, my favorite time of year, go by in a flash, like sand sifting through my fingers. Poof! In a flash the trees turn beauteous, with variegated flames of color. Poof! The leaves are gone.
First, there is the change in light. The sun, still hot in mid-September, does not pack the punch it did in July, when one could be outdoors for an hour and come in with a change in skin color. Temperatures cool. The grass starts to stop growing. The “blood” of the trees starts to flow back into the trunk, causing leaves to change color. Walnuts, acorns and apples fall. Butterflies, so rampant outdoors in August, have gone inside the stomach of many a child as they go back to school. Even adults are not immune. Many feel the flutter of “back-to-school” anxiety come Fall. Summer vacations are a memory and it is time to “honker down” at work. Fall offers a new beginning but there is a tinge of anxiety in facing some thing new.
And most of all, Fall is a time of riotous color, when a walk in the woods finds one reveling like a drunk, besotted by the yellow, orange, crimson, russet world which our eyes imbibe like a hefty cocktail. It is a time when Italian comes to the lips in a loud “Que bella!!” The green of summer is bucolic and raises the spirit, but the many colors of fall intoxicate. People start talking of peak color, and leafing becomes the pastime of many. It is the time to plant bulbs and endlessly rake blowing leaves.
But Fall is a time of melancholia, too. Flowers die. Reptiles go into hibernation. Insects die or overwinter. Songbirds migrate. Trees eventually loose their leaves. And the end of the lazy days of summer brings with it shorter days, longer nights, and concomitant depression for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Moments of sobriety seep into intoxication with the new world of color as we may remember loved ones who can no longer share the beauty–who can no longer enjoy those coveted, cooler, crisp days of September when coolness kisses the cheeks. For autumn is a celebration of endings, too, perhaps best described by the French poet, Guillaume Appollinaire, in his poem Autumn:
“A bowlegged peasant and his ox receding
through the mist slowly through the mist of autumn…
Oh the autumn the autumn has been the death of summer
In the mist there are two gray shapes receding.”
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.
It is a summer night, late in August. September and autumn are knocking at the door. The day was hot– the last gasp of a 3H summer day. And then, at night, come the thunderstorms. Downpours of rain hit hot asphalt and steam rises in the moonlit roads. The air cools down by 10, maybe 15 degrees.
We are going out to pick up a pizza for dinner and we hit the road in the middle of what must be called “Frog Frenzy.” Frogs are everywhere, every kind and every size. Hopping here and there. We drive in a hopscotch pattern to avoid running them over. We are hoping no one is watching our car stop and start and swerve left and right. The frogs look silvery in the headlights. Perhaps it is the last mating call of the season. Perhaps the frogs know something we don’t– perhaps this is the last warm day and thunderstorm of a dying summer.
There are long-legged frogs leaping across the road, teeny frogs skimming the asphalt, and giant frogs that cross the road in two to three jumps. Mating can be the only incentive for this frenzy of activity. Driven by desire, they are mating without concern for their welfare. More likely they are not aware of the danger that lurks in the road. Like all animals, we assume frogs live in the present moment, perhaps as we humans do in our twenties, driven by biology to seek a mate in a frantic orgy of activity.
My husband and I on our pizza run, which is no run but a crawl, are uplifted by this affirmation of life. We, who in our 20s, did not think we could die, are afraid of taking what would seem like even moderate risks now. We take delight in the frenetic frog activity as we get our pizza.
But it is a different landscape we drive through on the way home only a quarter of an hour later. The frogs are gone– completely vanished having hopped to wherever they were seeking to go. We only see some frogs who did not make it. A large truck pulled out from the road just as we turned in. Not the type to play hopscotch while driving.
We feel privileged to have witnessed this “Frog Frenzy,” this affirmation of life– this ten minute window of activity that shut down as abruptly as it opened. But the next morning, walking the road, we see mangled frogs everywhere. We can’t blame the one truck we saw for this massacre.
This is not an isolated incident. In the Summer 2008 Defenders, the Conservation Magazine of Defenders of Wildlife, a study by Purdue University is cited in which the number of road kill in a suburb of Indiana were counted over a 17 month period. The number was an astounding 10,500 dead animals and 95 percent of those were frogs and other amphibians. Many of the other amphibians were eastern tiger salamanders making their way to breeding grounds to lay 500 to 1,200 eggs. Obviously this could affect future populations. Sy Montgomery, in her “The Wild Out Your Window: Exploring Nature Near at Hand,” tells us that during the “salamander rains,” as she calls them, so many salamanders are killed by cars, that in Amherst they built special tunnels so the salamanders would be safe from the road, and in Lenox and Framingham they close the roads during the migration. Are a few towns in Massachusetts the only enlightened guardians of this amphibian ritual? Why are there not more precautions taken on our roads all across the country’s wetlands? Why aren’t the fading wetlands being preserved with the reverence they deserve as they serve earth?
We don’t know how long the “Frog Frenzy” lasted but, judging from the number of bodies in the road the next day, we caught only the tail end of it. The unlucky ones, who did not make it, lie in waiting for crows and other carrion-eating birds to come feast in this other, inevitable aspect of nature, the dead frog banquet. This time our hearts are heavy. We mourn the frogs who jumped so wildly to their death in their state of excitation. The “Night of the Frogs– just another sampling of man’s abject inhumanity to those he deems inferior, and, with whom he shares this mystery called “earth.”
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)
All limited edition original photographs available in different sizes and formats.
All limited edition original photographs available in different sizes and formats.
It was a beautiful autumn day. The air was the lovely cool that October brings and the birds and the squirrels were in a feeding frenzy. I barely noticed though because all morning was spent cleaning resistant rust stains with some horrid acid cleaner with all kinds of warnings on it. And I had a low fever and was feeling kind of lousy. A phone call set the afternoon on a downward spiral. It had been an angry phone call. I had called my husband at lunch time and he was showing all the signs of extreme job stress. He is a psychiatric social worker and at times it seems all of his clients act out at once and intakes happen and hospitalizations happen and whatever can go wrong, does. It was one of those kind of days. He proceeded to yell at me, for what seemed like fifteen minutes but was probably only five, about all that went wrong that day. Then suddenly the phone went dead. I called back immediately and got a fast busy signal. I tried again with the same result. And again. I tried the cell but, as usual, his cell was turned off. So there was no getting through. And he had a long commute home and considering his mood and all, I was totally alarmed. I tried him on and off all afternoon and finally left a message on his cell asking him to call me. He didn’t. Until well after the time he should have left work.
“Are you still speaking to me?” he asked right away. “Yes, of course, why do you ask?” “Because I was yelling at you at lunch time.” “I know and I was wondering why but I didn’t hang up. The phone went dead.” “Okay, I am on my way home. It will take some time because I was delayed and traffic is worse at this time.” “Okay,” I said. I didn’t say my usual “Be careful!” or other worried dictums. I was just happy he had called. When I hung up the phone I thanked God he had called and he seemed to have calmed down some since lunchtime. Things were looking better than they had at midday.
And then there was the unmistakable thud on the window. I hoped in vain it was a falling walnut since they bounce off the roof and such at this time of year. But two feathers on the window pane left telltale marks. I was felt ill. We had just put up a wooden bird house with suction cups in the window above to prevent bird collisions (according to the advertisement). I looked out the window on the deck for a body. None. I went outside. No bird. Such a loud thud though was unmistakable. When I turned the corner of the deck on to the lawn, sure enough, I saw the bird. He saw me and seemed too stunned to be afraid so I did a quick form of Japanese energy healing technique known as Reiki on him. Deciding my gigantic presence was probably stressing him out further I went inside. I could see him from the window. I did the symbols for distant healing and sent him the animal healing symbol. He sat there with his head resting on the ground. At least he did not have his beak open in a screech like a wounded blue jay a few months ago but things did not look good.
Now half of me comes from a Sicilian background and it is a strong strain in my psyche. My maternal grandfather was a peasant working in the stone quarries of Sicily when, at 16, he fulfilled his dream of coming to the United States. Here he wound up becoming a lawyer but only after first doing stone work to finance his night schooling. Among his carving work was the Lincoln Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was an exceptional man and I was very close to him as a little girl. His peasant background never left him. This was both good and bad. The bad, he and his wife and my mother were very superstitious. They believed in omens and signs. And this was instilled in me. Now to have this bird fly into the window just after talking to my husband about his long commute home was all too much. I argued in my mind against omens and superstitions but in my gut I was sick.
I kept checking on the bird, wondering if he was dead yet and if I should go bury him so he wouldn’t get eaten. I did more Reiki. I cried. It was not only that this poor little bird was hurt and probably going to die but what he represented. The birds had been in a feeding frenzy these past few days. I had just refilled the bird feeder yesterday and it was half empty not even 24 hours later. And it was bird central. Birds flying like kamikaze planes all over the front yard. When I went to fill the bird feeder a bird stayed on eating to the very last minute, unafraid of my approach. And as soon as I put the feeder back up in the tree he was back, not even waiting for me to leave. In this frantic feeding no wonder there was an accident.
I went back to the window to check the bird again. His head had been resting on the ground and things definitely did not look good! But, did I see his head up now? Yes, he had lifted up his head and he was moving his head right and left and up and down. I prayed in desperation. And I kept watching feeling guardedly hopeful. And next thing I knew he took to the air and flew to the swamp somewhere lost to my eyes. I was ecstatic. I got down on my knees and thanked God. This was truly a miracle. In my pessimism and superstition that I must battle with daily I have lost all faith in miracles. But miracles do happen. The guy at work who was on death’s door after collapsing outside the library and wound up having cancer, was now fully tumor free and working out at the gym. Another miracle. People and birds don’t always die even when things look their bleakest. Sometimes there are miracles. And my husband came home safe and sound and apologized to me and was happy to be home. Sometimes, too, there are happy endings.
Horses and Watercolor Trees
Autumn, the “second spring, where every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus
No.5 Landscape in a Window
No. 4 Melancholia
No. 3 Fall Reflections
No. 1 Lace Highlights
All limited edition original photographs available in different sizes and formats.