Feeling the fall

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne 

Maybe it’s a symptom of middle age, or maybe it’s just my old Celtic soul stirring up a seasonal memory.

Either way, late October always tugs on my sleeve and insists that I slow down to take stock of the passing year. Despite the “worries of the week” — or whatever I’ve chosen to focus on — Mother Nature reminds me that life is all about cycles. Some seasons flow more easily than others, but I have many reasons to be grateful for every one I’m given.

Last week, when I looked down over the ravine that dips toward the river behind our home in St. Joseph, I remembered an excerpt from this poem by Billy Collins:


The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things, and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things —
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories;
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles;
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.

—Billy Collins, excerpted from The Art of Drowning