Monday, October 19, 2015

Words for Autumn

I've been out walking some of the property boundaries, trying to figure out how to work the GPS app in my iPhone. I can read the latitude and longitude, but it doesn't seem to update as I move through the woods. I'll play some more with it and get it figured out. If nothing else, it gives me a wonderful excuse reason to be outside in this fantastic weather. Despite early promises, hopes, and anticipation, this year's colors don't seem as vibrant as in recent years past.

October 2011 seeds and colors
October 2011 seeds and colors
Photo by J. Harrington

There are several words that I believe fit this time of year particularly well. One is "sere." That word comes to mind as I noticed the opened seed pods with dry fluffy seeds waiting to become wind-borne. Dun is a color that seems particularly autumnal, along with golden, like the tamarack leaves as they drop. I first encountered the word dun in fly-fishing. Lots of dry flies and nymphs are dun (dull, grey-brown), even in Spring, but I see dun as the best word for a whitetail deer's Winter coat. Last, but far from least, Autumn makes me think of the word burnished, especially when I'm looking at oak leaves after their color has changed from chlorophyl green to burnished brown or maroon.

October 2011 golden tamaracks
October 2011 golden tamaracks
Photo by J. Harrington

The music of migrating waterfowl and flying leaves almost always makes me reach for and play an Autumn standard, Tom Rush's The Circle Game. One song in particular, Joni Mitchell's Tin Angel has lyrics that make me feel Autumn clear into my marrow.  Autumn is the time to find someone to love through long, cold Winter nights that take all the heart we have to survive.



mountain ash berries
mountain ash berries
Photo by J. Harrington

The Night Migrations



This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds’ night migrations.
It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on,
they disappear.
What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won’t need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.

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