Fears and tears
in the sunshine
“The cruelest month”
and with it
in the spirit
I see only
and Spring clouds
my parched soul
and bring back
will and spirit
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.”
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It is frigid outside and has been for a long time. It is very cold in many parts of the country. The holidays have come and gone. The hoopla of the inauguration is over. Now begins the nitty-gritty of hard winter work. I find myself listless and not wanting to go outside or exercise or paint or take pictures or do much of anything I usually love to do. I have a cold but that does not excuse this lassitude. When I go to my favorite deli, I find that Terry, the sandwich lady, is in the same mood. “I was ready to go home the moment I came in,” she says. My husband was dour and I was sour. What is the meaning of this discontent? Could it be some vestigial remnant of human hibernation? While man has never hibernated, science finds his metabolism slows down in winter and he becomes less active. Binging on food and drink over the holidays may not be the sole reason for weight gain in winter. Perhaps we should be sleeping off the extra pounds.
I who love winter and live for fall each summer, find myself longing to hear the music of the spring peepers. It is months away– well about a month and a half away. They signal for me the first harbingers of new life. Terry, who also loves winter, tells me today she is sick of winter as she makes our sandwiches. Perhaps it is this string of Arctic air and grey days and icy road conditions and snow every few days. Perhaps, and more likely, it is the human condition to always be dissatisfied.
I miss the squirrels. It has been so cold and snowy they seem to be laying low in their nests. Judging from the tracks in the snow the animals most on the move are the deer. And as much as I love the silence of winter, I find myself longing for the sweet dulcet music of birdsong at mating season in spring.
We bought a calendar for the new year with a celestial map of the sky for each month so you can find the constellations in the night sky. We have yet to go out with flashlights and match the map with the canopy of stars. It has been too overcast or too cold or too something. But my dazzled psyche is humbled by the view of the stars through the stripped down trees that we see from bed every night.
Then again maybe it is laziness. Too many sugar highs in December have led to a deep low in February. And after a tease of spring one day in which the temperature reached almost 60 degrees we were let down even further. Not liking being unproductive, I think I can overcome this. But maybe I should just go with the flow and accept a period of inactivity, let the land lay fallow, so that an increase in productivity may eventually result.
I know I should focus on what is positive. Winter is the season of silent beauty that I so long for in the summer heat. I delight in the quiet of winter days. The snows bring a hushed stillness good for the soul. It is a time to regroup. Spring will come. Hopefully if man has not destroyed all the vernal pools, the spring peepers will return. And if pesticides have not destroyed all the birds, sweet mating songs will be sung. And if the weather turns more clement, our spirits will soar once again, and we will be busy bees making honey while the sun shines.