Saturday, September 15, 2012

Frog on Kale

While we may well miss the stroking hand of sultry mid-summer days clotted with radiant sunshine, bathed and bleached, today the dappled light that shines through the open eyelids of this warm September afternoon calls us to herald the arrival of the upcoming season. Fanning their joyous leaves to shortened days swollen with a gathering wind, well-attired trees prepare to shed their green in a gradual promenade. How wide the world is. We peer inside.

Fallen leaves lay strewn along driveways and garden paths in steadily increasing quantities. So many leaves accumulate that any one of them can easily go unnoticed. Their silence is a delicate tap on the shoulder that prompts us to look more closely.

Untold wonders clink like small change in my pocket. The field bordering the orchard is a Monet of thistle, grass, and blackberry bramble. To reach the paved walking trail I must cross a channel of knee-high meadow barley dried to a fine golden brown. With stubborn burrs adhered fast to socks, my tender, sneakered feet complain further when poked by the sharp, dry grass stalks. A family of startled California quail flap into the underbrush as I transition to the smooth, grey asphalt.

Half moon, a glowing thumbnail hanging in the bottomless blue sky of day, wipes all stain from the sublime expanse unfolding before me. Oh mockingbird – how your swaying trill slits the quiet. My eyes follow the bight white lateral bands painted across the arch of your wings and silently applaud your angular, twitchy tail. So conspicuous, yet the ecstatic patterns of your flight remain invisible and leave no trace. Carried to the reel and ruffles of your spirited anthem upon the bough, your play of movements opens my arms burdened with wishes onto the lips of the day as I peer out through the flimsy lenses of my thinking and slowly raise my mind to wonder, who are you singing to?

A dry leaf skitters across the sun-warmed footpath lined with Queen Anne’s lace. Claret-colored umbrels of inflorescence that once spread their umbrella ribs, bright white and rounded when in full flower – now appear brittle and brown, folding in on themselves in a bird’s nest of self-embrace. They rim the sleepy field with a task no more exceptional than to multiply, one by one,  enveloped by an air both solemn and sweet, unblemished by the shadow of a tumbling melancholy that robs them of their youth. As the world that was not comes to pass, are they, like us, sick for the flourishing postcard colors of home?



Seasons build and emerge and frame our time here on earth with intensity and surprise. The beauty of the mind is its circular form writes John O’Donohue in his book Eternal Echos: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong. For if our lives were only a line through time, wouldn’t we  miss the strange way in which everything that goes forward is somehow still travelling backward  within the circular embrace of centerpiece, beloved pools of glimpses and gleans as fleeting as a kiss on the forehead, to be collected strand by strand and woven into kingly crowns?
We do not live simply in our thoughts, feelings or relationships writes John O’Donohue. We belong on the earth where the sun fosters life; where the moon blesses the night and the contemplative presence of nature is not cluttered by thought. As I walk alone among refreshing winds and high, thin, overlapping clouds, a slow and open-ended transition brings me to calm. And while this sense of calm doesn’t linger – but only visits, each visitation calls me to feel, think and act beautifully in the world.
What a pleasure, then, for these last, precious weeks of mild weather. As the day walks in circles around me I feel swept clean by the wind and gently swayed by the ballerina turns of light-winged flowers. The full-throated chorus of insects and birds, in their sculpted contemplation of rock and starry winking at treetops, slips me into the tranquility of a moment’s stillness. I'm as happy as a frog on kale - content to bask in the worthy call of late summer's glory, watching as the stuff of my mind scatters like seeds and fluff.