Friday, August 24, 2012

Whispers of Fall

This time of year, people begin to think of autumn.
I wonder sometimes if it is only because August marks the return to school
or because autumn wreaths and the accoutrements of Halloween
have been on the store shelves since the Fourth of July.
In other words, do we realize autumn is coming because our culture tells us so,
or is it that we remain closer to nature than we think
and sense the subtle changes in light that signal summer's end?

Do we notice that squirrels begin gathering nuts with alacrity, 
having heard whispers of fall from the trees?

Maybe it's all of that and more. 
Lately I've noticed:

A flutter of yellow leaves falling from the river birch tree in our front  yard. 
They lay like lemon drops on the spent grass:

And berries on the chindo virburnum 
and the sweet bay magnolia have turned scarlet
to attract birds before they fly further south:

The Japanese Painted ferns have begun to show a blush of peach:

And the redbud trees' seed pods have turned brown 
in readiness for their impending drop to search for fertile ground:

And it wouldn't be a preview of autumn 
without the emergence of a few flame-red leaves:

Some people love autumn for its crisp air, the haze-free blue skies,
the smell of wood smoke curling from chimneys.
And I know those who live in areas that have experienced blistering heat this summer
are eagerly anticipating the relief that fall will bring.
But there are two opinions when autumn appears on the horizon.

Albert Camus once said that "Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower."
And I concede that early autumn can be breathtaking in its beauty.
On the other hand, many of us consider 
the coming of autumn less favorably than Camus.
Our feelings toward it are better represented by Emily Dickinson:

Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
a little this side of the snow
and that side of the haze.

Love autumn or not, come it will.
And knowing that the earth is constant, its seasons eternal
is a comfort everyone can appreciate.

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