Tuesday, September 16, 2008
A familiar thrill
It's finally turned cool here, which feels like a gift. The late summer heat had gotten so tedious, and that warm, damp air from Hurricane Ike was enervating, in spite of all the wind.
Bright weather like this brings a lot of extra people out to the parks. The trails are much busier than usual, even in the early morning. It's nice to see folks out enjoying the world but I prefer my solitude. I tend to follow less popular routes on days like these, and I'll stop a while beside the trail to let groups of hikers pass by so I don't have to listen to them chatting behind me. I was doing that this morning, watching the birds flit around in the brush, when I saw a fallen leaf caught in a spider web. A light breeze was blowing and the web was invisible, so the leaf seemed to be floating in the air, as if brandished by a ghost.
I felt a familiar thrill, looking at the archetypal fall image: the decaying leaf, the web, the suggestion of something otherworldly. Autumn is the season of memento mori, and yet it's not a quiet season, not still. There's a powerful energy that shimmers through the natural world as it surrenders the life and productivity of summer. Fall is not a time of death, but of dying, a process of transformation. I grieve to see so many beauties and pleasures disappear, but it's exhilarating to feel the force that has lifted up every green thing reverse course and rush back toward the earth.
Photo by James K. Lindsey from Wikimedia Commons