October’s last leaf descends in the rain like a curtain at the end of the play. And for one hallowed moment we are suspended between two worlds, the one gone before, the other yet to come.
Behind us is memory; before us is dream. And here they mingle, each informing the other, each giving to the other its wisdom, its vision, its weight, and light, and color, and love.
And when the two worlds part, each carries with it the impress of the other, knowing that, in truth, they are not separate at all.
Because she had so much tenderness in her heart for the dear little leaves, their vacant bodies melting now into the bosom of the earth, October laid a sheaf of gold upon them.
She whispered a prayer of gratitude for all they had given and all they were giving still.
“Well done, my beauties,” she whispered, gently smiling.
And the leaves, whose spirits were released to their home dimension the moment that their leathery shells touched the ground, smiled back at her from their heights, glad to have been a part of her spectacular autumn scenes.
Not wanting us to be without some decoration, now that the leaves are gone and the rain’s washed the colors away, October fastened pink buttons of delight right atop the fallen log.
And, since she has an artist’s hand, she scattered spruce needles among them, like some cypher of love.
It’s a small thing. But on this dark day, we gladly embrace all signs of grace.
Now the time for dreaming has come. I have covered the world’s bright skies for you and heaped the leaves on the soil. Cozy in, my children, and dream.
Spin dreams of summers past and of summers yet to come. Dream of sparkling possibilities, yours for just the reaching; dream of making dreams come true.
I am putting the year away now and pulling in the long nights. Beyond the clouds, the heavens glisten with stars for your wishing. Wish beautifully, my children. Dream star-spangled dreams.
Like drunken revelers traipsing home the morning after a night on the town, they stumbled down the road. You could them laughing half a mile away. What a show! What a hoot! What a howl!
The music was still streaming through their veins, you could tell. They staggered and swayed to its rhythm, full of its lush notes.
Soon they would collapse into a long night’s sleep. But oh, how the season’s finale would dance in their dreams!
“Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer.”
~From Letters From an American Farmer, a 1778 work by the French-American soldier turned farmer J. H. St. John de Crèvecoeur
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We no longer burn the fallen leaves. But when I was a child, it was the custom. Then, late autumn weekends were unfailingly perfumed with smoke rising from great heaps of leaves which our fathers spent their Saturdays raking into piles. We ran and leaped into them, laughing, before they were set afire. And if I were able to inhale that fragrance today, it would be a nostalgic smell.
But the mildness of Indian Summer remains. All week, we have reveled in its lingering warmth, wandering the forests, breathing the scent of fallen leaves, the beauty of autumn’s final colors.
Today the trees are all but bare. The afternoon temperatures have dropped with the last of their leaves. Shoppers crowd the stores, picking up milk and bread ahead of a coming storm, dropping the word, “snow.” It won’t be long now.
Except for a few golden holdouts in the highest branches here and there, the trees are mostly bare now. Oh, the russet leaves of the oaks remain of course. Many of those will make it into winter, hardy souls that they are.
When she walked to the edges of the lake, then, what a gift it was to gaze suddenly on this one small shock of color, autumn’s final joy flags, floating in the still air.
She wasn’t exactly surprised; she knew that every moment harbors beauty. But still, this splendor darted straight to her soul.
This dazzling light at play in the clouds, dancing on the waters, flows ceaselessly. Before the first man and woman walked this planet, it warmed the soil, before the first fish, or flower, or dinosaur. And none could have arisen without it.
For eons, it has guided, grown, nourished and inspired us. It’s served as a god, so mighty is its power. It’s sung through every sunrise, every sunset ever seen. Even in the darkness, the moon reflects is grace.
It measures our seasons, our hours, our days. It withholds itself from no one. But to each, it gives its fullness and the warmth of its embrace.
All this, from one little star! Let us dance in its light and be glad.
Like some bridal bouquet tossed aside after the knot is hitched and the last dance done, the wildflowers littered the roadside. There they stood, amidst a confetti of leaves and streamers of vines, shining with good wishes that would sail, soon, with the breeze.
“Here’s to the lovers!” they sang, “and to all who wish them well. May the walls of their homes ring with laughter and each night end with a kiss. And may all who love, everywhere, be blessed with abundance and joy.”
And a shaft of sunlight came to lift a toast with the flowers, and the breeze waltzed by and carried the wishes far and wide.
How colorful life’s paths, and how winding. Both level and steep, narrow and wide, they lead us on. And every step enriches us and adds to our treasures.
The difficult stretches grow us; the leisurely ones bring us renewal. And every turn adds to the wealth of our experience.
All of this is for you. The winding, the steeps, the narrows, the times of peace are all meant to reflect to you your depths and heights, your strengths and your incredible beauty. Rejoice in them, and be glad.