Leaving Red Kisses: A Happiness Tale

November Berries

November left softly.   She lowered the light and warmed the day and hummed lullabies as she tiptoed away, leaving red kisses behind her.

Despite the roar of color that blazed when she arrived, she had managed to tone things down, gradually stretching the nights longer and longer, bringing in her subtle hues of browns and ambers and grays.  And now, at last, earth’s children were asleep, or nearly so, and drifting into their long winter’s dreams.

Only the few who would see the winter through still stirred.  And it was for these wakeful ones that she left the kisses.  “Be of good cheer, dear ones,” she whispered.  “The long nights won’t go on forever.”

Then, with a wave of her hand, she called in an evening mist, and stepping into it, faded away.

The Singing of the Reeds

Reeds Along Green Lake

The bleached reeds along the lake shore stood in a regal chorus, waiting for the signal to begin their song. Behind them, thin, bare branches looped like holiday decorations, backed by the rows of evergreens.

You could imagine a white swan arriving at any moment, or perhaps a flotilla of emerald-headed mallards parading back and forth as the reeds sang their song.

But one thing was certain. This was a special moment, staged with intention and meant to make you listen with your soul.

So we stood there, in the cold, almost holding our breath, hearing the quiet lapping of waves against the shore. Then, as if it came from far away or long ago, a high sweet melody drifted across the water. And when I looked at your face to see if you heard it too, I saw your smile, and a tear of wonder in your eye.

Treasure Hunt

Gold Draped Tree

The cold could have kept them away.  Skim ice, after all, was floating on the lake.  But they were warmed by their meal and in search of treasure, so they ventured out.

If they looked with fresh eyes, she was sure they would find materials and shapes sufficient for her purpose.    And he would do anything to please her.   She wanted fallen branches with intricate curves, and pliable vines that would let her craft their holiday decorations.

As if it was there to affirm the possibilities, a tree called them to the lake’s end, where brush and brambles lay tangled.  It was draped in gold and sang, “Yes!  Yes!  What you seek is here!”   And they followed its call, and returned home with full arms and beaming faces, wealthier than they ever could have imagined.

Benediction

Branches against sky

May your days be showered with blessings. May your heart be filled with joy.

May all your storms pass quickly and their clouds pass quickly by.

May your love encircle the globe and return to you a thousand-fold.

May you walk with wonder upon the earth and know her beauty.

May you sleep drenched in stardust and wake to the light of the Yes.

May you sing songs of gladness and thanksgiving and live in abiding peace.

After Harvest

Corn Field After Harvest

The last of the crops are gathered now, and the fields settle in for their season of rest.  They’ll sleep in peace beneath the coming snows, glad for the quiet, glad for the memories of all they could contribute to the the children of the earth.

And November will bless them with lullabies that sing, “Well done,” and send them the thanks of earth’s children on the last of the warm autumn winds.

A Radiance of Hope

Rainbow in Storm Clouds

All day the winds roared, pummeling the trees, ripping limbs, downing branches, hurling everything it could catch across the fields, the lawns and roadways.   Clouds that dwarfed mountains rushed across the sky like speeding freight trains, late to deliver rivers of rain.

All who could take shelter did, man and birds and beasts alike.  Whispers of “Danger!” flew through the air.

But then, as if the Yes itself sought to remind, a radiance of hope arched across the sky and all who saw it forgot their fear and were filled with awe at its beauty.  And the clouds gave way to the sun, and the winds became a healing breeze in answer to their trust.

Watching the Geese at Dusk

Geese at Brady's Run Lake

Watching the geese at dusk, their silent dance moving in and out of the shadows as the day’s light and colors fade, you want, somehow, to hold into this moment for another hour or two.

Let the motion stay, but hold the light right here, just long enough for the peace of it all to become indelible memory.  You take the fragrance of it into your lungs.

Your wife and your dog stand at your side, content, alive, watching.  The ballet goes on, timed to the ripples on the water’s surface.  This is all you ever wanted.  This moment of standing on the shore at dusk, watching the geese.

The Dream that is November

Geese on November Lake

In the dream that is November, geese swim on a green lake.  The quiet murmuring between them is the only sound.  The air is still.  The lake is still and wears a skim of sparkling ice and the colors of the red oak leaves that reflect from the hill at its edge.

The geese linger to feed on the echoes that are beyond human hearing: the singing of rippling waters after a bass breaks their surface, the laughter of children at play on the shores, the splash of a canoe’s paddles, the ricochet of bird calls and chattering squirrels, the patter of summer rain.  They will feed until they are filled.

And by then, the sparkling ice will cover the lake completely, and the dream that is November will have flown away on their broad, strong wings.

Sky Promise

Winter Sunset

The last time I passed this field, it was golden with ripe soybeans and edged with still-green thistle.   Now, as if it were some quick-change artist, it suddenly wears a crusty snow, striped with the harvester’s tracks.

But it’s not the field that catches my eye as much as the glow of the day’s gentle sunset, written like a promise on the southwestern sky.  Its color is a blessing after a day of low-slung heavy clouds and dreary frozen rain as a childhood rhyme floats through my mind:  Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

I smile, remembering that.  Tomorrow we will see sun.

Jack’s Back

Frost on Window Glass

Even the cold has its compensations.   It’s good to count them when your nose and toes complain.

The mosquitoes, for instance, have gone.  You can be awake to see the sun both rise and set and still get plenty of sleep.  You don’t have to mow the lawn or empty the air conditioner’s bucket.   You can put your collection of afghans to good use.  You have all the excuse you need  to eat those yummy comfort foods.

And if you have an eye for finding beauty, you can revel in the sparkle of freshly fallen snow, of the diamonds of ice on slim branches.  You can watch long blue shadows roll over the curves of a snow-smoothed field.  And if you’re lucky enough to have a few old windows, you can wake on frosty morning and hear yourself exclaim, “Jack’s back!  Jack’s back!” as you marvel at the etchings on the glass.