Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20

Several days now successive of bluebird skies & sharp light & the underbreath of winter through the scattering yellow leaves. That auratic sense that only autumn can provide, of the soil smell, & the swaths of crimson, & the cranes flocking south & everywhere, everywhere, the crisp sun. Season of mist & mellow fruitfulness, for Keats. & for me always that attending sense of crepuscular gratitude, if that quite makes sense. How full its fleeting moments, simply because so urgently fleeting, & into & out of such a rich kind of beauty.

Maybe it’s how time seems to lay itself bare for autumn, & how the heart clamors across that landscape. Or maybe I’m doing some temporal accounting anyway. But I feel my childhood bodily come autumn, feel its fugitive joys & its small ruptures in all of their original tenderness. & I feel the scraping wind, & the sunlight settling over the plains, cut in crooked, palsied shapes by the boughs of the oaks & elms & buckeyes. See the long shadows yawning over the stubbled aureate ground. I feel the dry skein of a cornhusk overlong in the heat. Think of the farm, the woodpile against the cold grey stones, the bifurcate branch of peach tree in my hands over the old well, the black jalopies with rock-shattered glass. Or the creek in the valley in Ohio, where we’d cross slow through the water. Or nights falling asleep in the back of the van driving down to Missouri, staring out at the passing night, supine & comfortable. Trees overhanging the lake in Minnesota, & the starshine cleanly reflected at night, such that to swim in the water seemed akin to swimming in the darkling, light-punctured sky. Which is all to say maybe what I love so about autumn is its nostalgia, its collision of urgency & careful recollection. What we were & who we were across those braided strands of our having-been, & how fondly & deeply & dearly we can engage in remembrance even as we notice how irrevocably far we’ve come from those beginnings, how vast that unbridgeable gap between our old selves & our new. Which is everything at once, I think—lovely & stabbing & comforting & celebratory & plain old sad. & how we emerge from our pasts into the violent wonder of the present, over & over again, & find ourselves somehow continually surprised, continuingly overwhelmed by beauty. What a thing, that.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3

Here the autumn sweeps in again in its dappled vermilions & russets & blazing golds, & the crisp light sieving the world in fine shadow. The frosts beginning in the morning, temperatures hovering around freezing & rising only slow & languid through the waning daylight. & autumn here absurdly beautiful. I walk slack-jawed & awed by it. Yesterday, we walked towards Carlo Ridge, forgetting moose hunting season began on the first. The trail splays out, ten feet wide, rutted with horseshoe prints indented where the mud gives & pulls their legs down. We turned & headed back to what may be the most plentiful patch of blueberries I’ve found. The dogs, after observing us picking, have taken to berry eating, & slowly, methodically, plod bush to bush nibbling carefully to avoid the dun leaves. Willa’s paws show streaks of stained purple. Moose, I think, may well have swiftly developed a keen addiction, given his particular vigor & voracity among the berries. But there is something to it, pausing, kneeling down in that quiet, hearing the soft sound of the dogs leisurely in their eating, smelling the sweetness of the loam & tundra. Raise your eye from that scene & wonder how ever you could leave it. I am tendriling into the ground here.

& otherwise, it’s the thought of mushing now occupies the bulk of my thinking. I look for snowclouds, I hope for cold. I spend more time with the dogs in the yard, talk to them about the winter, about my thrill at the thought of it. We’re all ready for the shift, for that blanketing quiet to fall over us, for summer’s dizzying pace to slow & abruptly halt. I am worn down, decidedly, & I am turning my eye to the Labor Day flush, when the boards go up over the windows & the buses disappear & with them the hordes of visitors. & then it’s just the wide open empty park, & the snow, & the sound of the wind, & the long & lovely yawn of winter.