Autumn


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

-John Keats

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The green elm with the one great bough of gold
Lets leaves into the grass slip, one by one, —
The short hill grass, the mushrooms small milk-white,
Harebell and scabious and tormentil,
That blackberry and gorse, in dew and sun,
Bow down to; and the wind travels too light
To shake the fallen birch leaves from the fern;
The gossamers wander at their own will.
At heavier steps than birds’ the squirrels scold.
The rich scene has grown fresh again and new
As Spring and to the touch is not more cool
Than it is warm to the gaze; and now I might
As happy be as earth is beautiful,
Were I some other or with earth could turn
In alternation of violet and rose,
Harebell and snowdrop, at their season due,
And gorse that has no time not to be gay.
But if this be not happiness, — who knows?
Some day I shall think this a happy day,
And this mood by the name of melancholy
Shall no more blackened and obscured be.

-Edward Thomas

This is a wonderful poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins which is very appropriate for the season.

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks aris
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?
I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?
And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic—as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!—
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

While I am looking forward to Autumn in a way, hearing the geese for the first time is somewhat depressing. It seems to be coming fast this year, that’s for sure. I think we all should be ready for a long, cold winter (especially here in the North Country) because the animals seem to be preparing already. And then there was that nip in the air as I hung out the laundry. SIGH! I’m really not ready. But then, even if it came later, would I be then? Probably not.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

~Emily Dickinson

This is kind of an odd time of year for me. We’re quite rapidly approaching the end of Summer, much to my dismay, for that only means that it will soon be Winter and 20˚ below zero yet again. But before we get to the sub-arctic temperatures of Winter, we must first pass through Autumn which is known for it’s warmer days and chilly nights; it’s dazzling leaves and the smell of wood burning in the fireplace. The geese are on the wing, desiring to get to warmer climates before the snow begins to fly, making quite a racket as they honk their way through the skies in that characteristic “V” shape. And while it’s not freezing cold, it’s cool enough that most days I can finally wear my cool red hat again. That in of itself is cause for celebration. Next to Spring, Autumn is my most favourite season. I know…seems odd, doesn’t it? The woman who whines and complains about the cold until the Summer sun finally sends forth it’s warmth and light, is actually joyfully anticipating Autumn. Maybe the planets are out of alignment or maybe I ate something weird and it’s done something to my head. Or maybe, just maybe, I don’t really hate the cold as much as I seem to go on and on about…..nah, that can’t be it. Must be something I ate. But I do, although it does seem odd in so many ways. Afterall, Autumn does seem to be the direct antithesis of Spring. How can I find joy in something that is seemingly so contradictory to other things I find joy in?

Spring is the season of new life. As the warm breezes finally make their way up to the frozen tundra of the North Country, they awaken those things that have long been dormant during the cold and snow. The trees yawningly stretch their long limbs up toward the sun as their green tresses begin to reemerge. The flowers lazily poke their colourful heads out of the earth, making sure it’s safe to come out again. And even the animals are busy tending to the little replicas of themselves that have decided to finally make an appearance and see what all the hubbub is about. You really can even smell the newness of life. Spring is truly an awesome time.

Autumn, on the other hand, is about as far from new life as one can get. Things are fading in the Autumn. All that new life that emerged a mere six months ago is now in the process of either perishing or preparing for a long, cold slumber…hardly cause for joy and happiness I suppose. But it’s the way they do it…sure, everything is in the process of either expiring entirely, or at least making it seem like they are. But this expiration is done with absolute gusto, almost as if nature is trying to make sure that it’s done right, just in case this is the last time it’s able to. Look at the trees…inwardly they must know that it’s only a matter of time before the icy wind subsides, allowing them to awaken yet again as they always have. But even if this thought has occurred to them, they still go into their dormant state with a bang…their leaves turn from a bright green to blazing reds, oranges and yellows, making the woods in which they live light up with brilliancy as the sun shines down upon them. And then, after we have been enchanted by the abundance of magnificent colour, the leaves flutter to the ground making a blanket of crunchiness that is great fun to run and, when raked into huge piles, jump into. The crisp coolness of the air makes you walk a little quicker and gives everything the wonderous odour of frost…mingle that with the tangy smell of burning leaves and wood, and that is what Autumn smells like. Truly glorious!

Then there are the animals. You have those that amble about, trying to get their fill of the leftover berries, mushrooms, or whatever else they can find to fill their tummies enough to keep them asleep through their long hibernation. Others scurry about, looking for acorns and beechnuts to stow away in their tree homes to keep them through the ice and coldness of the winter months. The latter tend to be very comical in their expeditions, as they chatter and screech at anything that comes close enough to be thought of as a threat to their precious stash. And then there are those that prefer to leave over the prospect of the snow and frigid temperatures, flying off to more temperate regions. It always brings somewhat of a forlorn feeling to hear them honking in the distance, but at least there is the consolation that they will be back soon enough.

But there is one other reason to love Autumn. One that is not quite as ostentatious as the others, but much more subtle and underlying. You see, as those things that were living, die, they make way for rebirth. For you cannot have rebirth without first, death. You cannot have the new without first having the old. In other words, you cannot have Spring without first having Autumn. The old and dying of Autumn are making way for the new life of Spring. You cannot have one without the other, and for that reason I have such a love for Autumn. Without it, I could never enjoy the pleasures of the Spring. Isn’t it interesting how nature took two such contradictory things, and forever bound them together so neatly? Interesting indeed…wonderfully so.