By now, the morning sun was just over the horizon and it came at me like a sidearm pitch between the houses of my old neighborhood. I shielded my eyes. This being early October, there were already piles of leaves pushed against the curb""more leaves than I remembered from my autumns here""andless open space in the sky. I think what you notice most when you haven't been home in a while is how much the trees have grown around your memories.
After 50 years together as a couple: "Look how fast the leaves are falling now, " Alan says. "The trees will be bare in a couple of days. Do you realize that we have watched the leaves fall together for more than fifty autumns?" I stand quietly, looking at Alan, letting his words sink in. I am suddenly so moved.
We really can't boil a man's life down to seasonal divisions of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Seasons cycle perennially, and we enjoy them because they recur. We should understand a man's life this way too. An elderly person may yet see new springs and summers. On the other hand, some young people never escape winter. Others become ensnared by their own private autumns.
I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on, The windows and the stars illumined, one by one, The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily, And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass; And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass, I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight, And build me stately palaces by candlelight.
When you live on Cold Mountain long enough the autumns pass quickly When you live alone you have no worries When you leave the doors open no one bothers you The bubbling stream runs forever In the cave a clay pot boils over a fire on the ground A wandering breeze stirs the fragrant pines When hungry I eat one simple meal And lean against the rock in complete harmony
Seventy-five years. That's how much time you get if you're lucky. Seventy-five years. Seventy-five winters, seventy-five springtimes, seventy-five summers, and seventy-five autumns. When you look at it like that, it's not a lot of time, is it? Don't waste them. Get your head out of the rat race and forget about the superficial things that pre-occupy your existence and get back to what's important now.
Most autumns, the water is low from the long dry summer, and you have to get out from time to time and wade, leading or dragging your boat through trickling shallows from one pool to the long channel-twisted pool below, hanging up occasionally on shuddering bars of quicksand, making six or eight miles in a day's lazy work, but if you go to the river at all, you tend not to mind. You are not in a hurry there; you learned long since not to be.
Autumns reward western Kansas for the evils that the remaining seasons impose: winter's rough Colorado winds and hip-high, sheep-slaughtering snows; the slushes and the strange land fogs of spring; and summer, when even crows seek the puny shade, and the tawny infinitude of wheatstalks bristle, blaze. At last, after September, another weather arrives, an Indian summer that occasionally endures until Christmas.
Squeeze your eyes closed, as tight as you can, and think of all your favorite autumns, crisp and perfect, all bound up together like a stack of cards. That is what it is like, the awful, wonderful brightness of Fairy colors. Try to smell the hard, pale wood sending up sharp, green smoke into the afternoon. To feel the mellow, golden sun on your skin, more gentle and cozier and more golden than even the light of your favorite reading nook at the close of the day.
Catherynne M. Valente
Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness. Even winter - the hardest season, the most implacable - dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.
Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness. Even winter "" the hardest season, the most implacable "" dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.
I sit beside the fire and think Of all that I have seen Of meadow flowers and butterflies In summers that have been Of yellow leaves and gossamer In autumns that there were With morning mist and silver sun And wind upon my hair I sit beside the fire and think Of how the world will be When winter comes without a spring That I shall ever see For still there are so many things That I have never seen In every wood in every spring There is a different green I sit beside the fire and think Of people long ago And people that will see a world That I shall never know But all the while I sit and think Of times there were before I listen for returning feet And voices at the door
Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." [Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]
I thought of many an autumn I had known: Seemly autumns approaching deliberately, with amplitude. I thought of wild asters, Michaelmas daisies, mushrooms, leaves idling down the air, two or three at a time, warblers twittering and glittering in every bush ('Confusing fall warblers, ' Peterson calls them, and how right he is): the lingering yellow jackets feeding on broken apples; crickets; amber-dappled light; great geese barking down from the north; the seesaw noise that blue jays seem to make more often in the fall. Hoarfrost in the morning, cold stars at night. But slow; the whole thing coming slowly. The way it should be.
We read the pagan sacred books with profit and delight. With myth and fable we are ever charmed, and find a pleasure in the endless repetition of the beautiful, poetic, and absurd. We find, in all these records of the past, philosophies and dreams, and efforts stained with tears, of great and tender souls who tried to pierce the mystery of life and death, to answer the eternal questions of the Whence and Whither, and vainly sought to make, with bits of shattered glass, a mirror that would, in very truth, reflect the face and form of Nature's perfect self. These myths were born of hopes, and fears, and tears, and smiles, and they were touched and colored by all there is of joy and grief between the rosy dawn of birth, and death's sad night. They clothed even the stars with passion, and gave to gods the faults and frailties of the sons of men. In them, the winds and waves were music, and all the lakes, and streams, and springs, -the mountains, woods and perfumed dells were haunted by a thousand fairy forms. They thrilled the veins of Spring with tremulous desire; made tawny Summer's billowed breast the throne and home of love; filled Autumns arms with sun-kissed grapes, and gathered sheaves; and pictured Winter as a weak old king who felt, like Lear upon his withered face, Cordelia's tears. These myths, though false, are beautiful, and have for many ages and in countless ways, enriched the heart and kindled thought. But if the world were taught that all these things are true and all inspired of God, and that eternal punishment will be the lot of him who dares deny or doubt, the sweetest myth of all the Fable World would lose its beauty, and become a scorned and hateful thing to every brave and thoughtful man.
Robert G. Ingersoll
I suppose you think you know what autumn looks like. Even if you live in the Los Angeles dreamed of by September's schoolmates, you have surely seen postcards and photographs of the kind of autumn I mean. The trees go all red and blazing orange and gold, and wood fires burn at night so everything smells of crisp branches. The world rolls about delightedly in a heap of cider and candy and apples and pumpkins and cold stars rush by through wispy, ragged clouds, past a moon like a bony knee. You have, no doubt, experienced a Halloween or two. Autumn in Fairyland is all that, of course. You would never feel cheated by the colors of a Fairyland Forest or the morbidity of a Fairyland moon. And the Halloween masks! Oh, how they glitter, how they curl, how their beaks and jaws hook and barb! But to wander through autumn in Fairyland is to look into a murky pool, seeing only a hazy reflection of the Autumn Provinces' eternal fall. And human autumn is but a cast-off photograph of that reflecting pool, half burnt and drifting through the space between us and Fairyland. And so I may tell you that the leaves began to turn red as September and her friends rushed through the suddenly cold air on their snorting, roaring high wheels, and you might believe me. But no red you have ever seen could touch the crimson bleed of the trees in that place. No oak gnarled and orange with October is half as bright as the boughs that bent over September's head, dropping their hard, sweet acorns into her spinning spokes. But you must try as hard as you can. Squeeze your eyes closed, as tight as you can, and think of all your favorite autumns, crisp and perfect, all bound up together like a stack of cards. That is what it is like, the awful, wonderful brightness of Fairy colors. Try to smell the hard, pale wood sending up sharp, green smoke into the afternoon. To feel to mellow, golden sun on your skin, more gentle and cozier and more golden than even the light of your favorite reading nook at the close of the day.
Catherynne M. Valente