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


Bozo said...

The spider webs in our fence gather moisture this time of year when the air grows cooler and morning dew settles thickly. They glisten like crystal and then by 9:00 a.m. they're invisible again.

Nice post, as always.

whodat said...

It's the best and most beautiful season, and it's thrilling every single year. Hopefully the throng on the trail will die out like New Year exercise club joiners and leave it to you enjoy in solitude!

BitterGrace said...

I love those early morning webs, Bozo. I think of them as a kind of night-blooming flower.

The fall throng is very similar to the New Year exercise club. They tend to disappear on the first really cold, rainy day and never return.