“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ― Alan Wilson Watts
Steve and I woke up yesterday to a brilliant autumn ballet of frost and color, sun and wind. We said goodbye to the sandhill cranes in our backyard and drove up to Door County to dance with the colors at Peninsula State Park on Green Bay.
Living in Wisconsin does have its benefits.
Back in 1997, I self-published a book of poetry called The King’s Gift: Poems and Parables. It contained this one that I titled “Change”:
In autumn, the trees start to sing once again
of the bittersweet mystery of change. Is it beauty or pain now attached to my soul? Is it grief… …or relief… …or nostalgia? In the scarlet and gold, the blood-red of life’s hold on my heart and the warmth of its love mingles memories and years into afternoon tears falling softly …as leaves… …to the ground.
I feel this way every fall. The change in light makes everything seem altered and thrown back into the past — until my eyes adjust and my brain catches up. Then the brilliance of the season kicks in. I really love Fall for its ability to draw out a range of emotion and hold it, fully aware and unashamed, in its transient environment.
I have always identified with autumn colors. My eyes are brown and green, flecked with gold. My hair is a sort of light brown with golden strands that catch the sunlight. I was a true blonde until my late teens when I began to shun the California sun for indoor time with my studies. My sister nicknamed me “Golden Girl”. I have never colored my hair and have only one gray one (which I pluck when it gets more than an inch long!). I love to stroll the green spaces where I live, and I get a little uneasy in a plane when all I see below are dusty expanses. Green is my go-to color. My mother never liked green and made pronouncements about why it was “bad” for a kitchen, for clothing, for just about everything except plants. I grew up revering my parents’ opinions, and learning to develop my own style is something I’ve come into rather late, I think. Sorry, Mom. I WILL wear green and decorate my indoor space with it liberally! This picture reflects a wonderful tapestry of fall colors, with a blue sky for background and a towering church which seems like it is being overtaken by vegetation. This is also me: my monumental Christianity is slowly being eclipsed and colored by a more prominent display of natural life. This is the hue of me:
This is the type of untidiness that needs not to be swept into piles and discarded in the gutter or collected in bags or cans. This is the dazzling detritus of Autumn, the fancy foliage of decrepitude; this splendid scattering of scarlet and gold makes sweet decay a glorious fate! Go ahead, Death, be proud! Come, decomposers, you fungi and millipedes, and create symphonies underfoot! Take a shuffling walk about this afternoon and breathe the perfume of change (if you’re not allergic!). Ain’t life (with Death included) grand?!
Ever had one of those days? Decidedly moody, unable to focus, liable to shed tears at any moment. It started as I was driving in to work. By lunch break, I had a poem scribbled on the back of a museum map in my pocket. By afternoon break, I had texted my children just to tell them I missed their dad. Lovely souls that they are, they reached back immediately with cyber hugs. (thanks, kids!) So here’s the poem – no title came with it.
What can I do?
— it’s October
the sumac is red and my poor, backward head
is flooding nostalgia like liquid amber.
If I picked up guitar and a blues-country twang
— and sang
it’d be you in the sunshine
white overalls, your shirt as blue as your eyes
walking me home from school
sweet, musky sweat
your warm, solid arm
the newness of the world in the flash of your smile