Winter whites will soon enough dominate our landscape, replacing the greens of Spring and Summer. Before that happens though, Autumn gets her turn to make leaves into a kaleidoscope of reds and bronzes and coppers and golds. Do you ever think about the
factpossibility that we might live in a world that we didn't experience as beautiful? What if leaves just turned to dust or ashes, then crumbled and dusted the ground? Would we see that transformation as beautiful as what we have? I doubt it.
Autumn oaks in bronzes and browns
Photo by J. Harrington
Nature doesn't have to show us as much beauty as she does. Each of us, all of us could have been made in such a way that we couldn't recognize beauty as we saw or heard or smelled or touched or tasted it. Instead, we have Autumn as apple season. Apples bring an array of reds, a crisp crunch at a bite, sweet or tart tastes in the juices. Apple blossom time in Spring fills our eyes with flowers and our noses with their scent. Those flowery aromas magically transform into the Autumn smells of cider and apple pies baking. Think about all this the next time someone like me points out how senseless it is to destructively exploit our only world and contaminate it with oil spills and mining pollution. If you never have, read at least the beginning of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Toward the end of the first chapter, A Fable for Tomorrow, you will find these words:
No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves.
scarlet and maroon leaves framed by pine
Photo by J. Harrington
That is not the way I'd like my version of our story to end. What about you? Isn't the time is past when we could claim we didn't know any better or couldn't do any better. Beauty, or the beasts we've created for ourselves -- our choice becomes our story, our legacy.
What to Eat, What to Drink, and What to Leave for Poison
I.Only now, in spring, can the place be named:tulip poplar, daffodil, crab apple,dogwood, budding pink-green, white-green, yellowon my knowing. All winter I was lost.Fall, I found myself here, with no texturemy fingers know. Then, worse, the white longingthat downed us deep three months. No flower heat.That was winter. But now, in spring, the budsflock our trees. Ten million exquisite buds,tiny and loud, flaring their petalled wings,bellowing from ashen branches vibrantkeys, the chords of spring’s triumph: fisted heart,dogwood; grail, poplar; wine spray, crab apple.The song is drink, is color. Come. Now. Taste.
II.The song is drink, is color. Come now, tastewhat the world has to offer. When you eatyou will know that music comes in guises—bold of crepe myrtle, sweet of daffodil—beyond sound, guises they never told youcould be true. And they aren’t. Except they areso real now, this spring, you know them, taste them.Green as kale, the songs of spring, bright as wine,the music. Faces of this season grinwith clobbering wantonness—see the smilesopen on each branch?—until you, too, smile.Wide carnival of color, carnivalof scent. We’re all lurching down streets, drunk nowfrom the poplar’s grail. Wine spray: crab apple.
III.From the poplar’s grail, wine spray. Crab applebrightens jealously to compete. But bythe crab apple’s deep stain, the tulip treelearns modesty. Only blush, poplar learns,lightly. Never burn such a dark-hued fireto the core. Tulip poplar wants herselflight under leaf, never, like crab apple,heavy under tart fruit. Never laden.So the poplar pours just a hint of winein her cup, while the crab apple, wild one,acts as if her body were a fountain.She would pour wine onto you, just let her.Shameless, she plants herself, and delivers,down anyone’s street, bright invitations.
IV.Down anyone’s street-bright invitations.Suck ‘em. Swallow ‘em. Eat them whole. That’s right,be greedy about it. The brightness callsand you follow because you want to taste,because you want to be welcomed insidethe code of that color: red for thirst; greenfor hunger; pink, a kiss; and white, stain menow. Soil me with touching. Is that right?No? That’s not, you say, what you meant. Not whatyou meant at all? Pardon. Excuse me, please.Your hand was reaching, tugging at this shirtof flowers and I thought, I guess I thoughtyou were hungry for something beautiful.Come now. The brightness here might fill you up.
V.Come. Now the brightness here might fill you up,but tomorrow? Who can know what the nextday will bring. It is like that, here, in spring.Four days ago, the dogwood was a fistin protest. Now look. Even she unfurlsto the pleasure of the season. Don’t beashamed of yourself. Don’t be. This happensto us all. We have thrown back the blanket.We’re naked and we’ve grown to love ourselves.I tell you, do not be ashamed. Who ismore wanton than the dancing crepe myrtle?Is she ashamed? Why, even the dogwood,that righteous tree of God’s, is full of lustexploding into brightness every spring.
VI.Exploding into brightness every spring,I draw you close. I wonder, do you knowhow long I’ve wanted to be here? Each yearyou grasp me, lift me, carry me inside.Glee is the body of the daffodilreaching tubed fingers through the day, feelingher own trumpeted passion choiring airwith hot, colored song. This is a textureI love. This is life. And, too, you love me,inhale my whole being every spring. Gonewinter, heavy clod whose icy bodyfell into my bed. I must leave you, butI’ll wait through heat, fall, freeze to hear you cry:Daffodils are up. My God, what beauty!
VII.Daffodils are up, my God! What beautyconcerted down on us last night. And ifI sleep again, I’ll wake to a louderblossoming, the symphony smashing downhothouse walls, and into the world: music.Something like the birds’ return, each morning’screscendo rising toward its brightest pitch,colors unfurling, petals alluring.The song, the color, the rising ecstasyof spring. My God. This beauty. This, thisis what I’ve hoped for. All my life is herein the unnamed core—dogwood, daffodil,tulip poplar, crab apple, crepe myrtle—only now, in spring, can the place be named.
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.