September strolled slowly down the sun-dappled path, her perfume trailing behind her in the balmy air.
It was a gentle afternoon, and she listened, one last time, to the songs of the breeze, of leaves cascading to the ground, of grasshoppers and crickets in the field, of the bees buzzing in and out of the asters and the Queen Anne’s lace and the glowing goldenrod’s flowers.
She was looking forward to returning to her home world and to sharing all that she had seen and done with the Seasons Past who gathered there. Even though she had been told to expect unspeakable wonders, her days on Earth had been more beautiful than she ever could have dreamed.
What a privilege it had been, she thought, to walk upon this sacred land, to view life from this amazing perspective. She had learned so much.
As the path turned and opened to the field, she saw the wooded rolling hills beyond, and the trees that lined the creek that meandered through them, and above it all the endless sky and dancing clouds. And she spread wide her arms, as if to embrace it all, and sang, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
So many emotions filled September’s heart as she packed to leave, so much nostalgia and joy. She had seen the fulfillment of sweet Summer’s days, and the arrival of glorious Autumn. She had painted the skies with color and rain and watched the sun and songbirds begin their southerly journeys.
Now Summer’s crops were ready for Autumn’s harvest, and the fields were filled with gold.
There was but one task left to do. Looking from horizon to horizon, September gathered in Summer’s finest dreams and the highest hopes of Autumn. Then, wrapping them with love, she spun them into strands of light and fastened them to the seeds of tiny yellow flowers. They would be her legacy, carrying her best into the tomorrows that were yet to be.
Her work completed, September gazed at the beauty of the forests and fields, of the ponds and creeks, the lakes and rivers and streams, the lawns, the streets, the homes. And her gratitude spilled across the landscape in a sweep of brilliant gold, and all the world sang in joy.
September’s visit was coming to an end, and it was time, she thought, to make one last visit to the corn.
The farmers, she discovered, had harvested the first of the crop and had gathered the tall, ripened shocks into bundles that stood in towering cone-shaped sculptures in the fields. Here and there, she saw, people were using the shocks as harvest decorations, tied to lampposts and bordering the doorways to their homes.
“And no wonder!” she thought as she examined one of the bundles. “Look at those textures and those soft, subtle hues!”
She had spent the past week in the woods dabbing leaves with bright shades of red and crimson, burgundy and gold. Now, face to face with the delicate neutrals of the corn, she found herself deeply moved.
She carefully tucked the image into her memory and made a note to thank the elfin crew whose task it had been to color the corn. “Magnificent,” she whispered, as she bade the corn field farewell. “Well done, indeed.”
The creek is bathed in the light of an early autumn afternoon, its slow waters dappled by patches of sun, catching the colors of trees and sky. Fallen leaves float past like tiny boats with invisible riders, still whirling from their fall.
The summer birds have gone. Now the whirring of grasshoppers and crickets dances above the softly murmuring waters, filling the whole space between the creek’s banks, sewing it into the surrounding woods like some central piece of a grand tapestry.
And so it is. So it is.
The maple stands before me, glowing orange against the blue autumn sky.
“This gift, freely given, is for you,” my soul whispers. “It asks nothing in return.”
What could I give? A moment of my time, perhaps, my awe. A few breaths, a few beats of my heart in thanksgiving.
But some splendors transcend our ability to repay them. They give only for the joy of giving, because it is their nature.
And if our spirits soar with their beauty, with their lyrical rising to the sky and sun, they will bear us gladly and know that their song was well sung.
The Great Yes looks out through the eyes of cows at the way the soft day settles on the field. It feels the moisture of their breathing and tastes the green juices of the tall grass swirling over their wide pink tongues. It smells the fragrances of their bodies and of the tall grass and of the nearby heaps of new-mown hay and of the water of the still, calm pond. It feels their ears twitch and their tails switch in a dance with the shiny black flies.
And at the same time, it is the flies, and the grass, and the pond, and the hay. It’s the motion of the breeze and the dance of the leaves in the trees and the earth from which they rise, and the sky through which it all spins.
And everything is filled with its song as the cows lie folded on the deep grass on a soft September afternoon.
“Let there be beauty,” the Great Yes declared, and the cosmos burst forth in response. From the tiniest speck to the limitless whole, all things were bathed in beauty.
Point to the places where you find it not; I invite a deeper view. Beneath the dance of dark and light, all things resolve to love.
An urban friend and I once drove together from the Appalachian hills to Minnesota. Beneath a cloud-swathed sky much like the one above me today, we rode mile after mile past rolling, wooded hills dotted with family farms.
The crops stretched across the landscape in a quilt of color, each square bordered by the green of trees, every square unique and beautiful. In some, cattle grazed, or sheep, or goats. Some were dotted with small ponds where ducks swam. Some had geese, or chickens.
Each had a barn, and each of those were unique and beautiful in their own way, too, and homes that sheltered generations of men and women who loved the land and tended it, and worried over it, and prayed over it, and gave themselves to it body, heart and soul.
Now and then, as we drove, the sun would find a break in the clouds and pour shafts of rolling light across the landscape so that it seemed always in motion, always alive.
We had traveled a couple hours, my friend and I, before she reached in the cooler to retrieve two bright, crisp apples.
“When are we going to get to a city,” she asked, “where there’s something to see?”
I think of her as I drive through the country landscape today, and smile.
Autumn arrived bearing baskets of gold. “Flame!” she commanded the sunflowers, and flame they did in utter joy.
This is the time of glory, the year’s crown. Its growth has reached its summit and displays its victory flag.
Now is the time for celebration, for shouting the hurrahs. Let there be rejoicing! Let the gold of harvest fill the land.
It was beautiful Summer’s last day, and September was thinking about what gift to give her as she took her leave.
As she looked back over all the beauty and joy that Summer had given, a song woven of laughter sang through her mind. She saw children at play, and beaches full of picnickers and bathers. She saw balls flying through the air in sport, and balloons decorating parties. She saw weddings and fairs, and concerts under the stars. And all of it was drenched in Summer’s glorious green and dripping with joy.
September gazed down at her palette. Suddenly an image came to her and she giggled in delight. She would paint little joy-globes on a field of green leaves and fill them with laughter and light.
“Thank you, sweet Summer,” she sang as she worked. “Go with our thanks, and farewell.”