02 November 2006

Arrival of the autumn muse

The first real rain of the season is falling just outside my open window as I write this. The sky is barely light. When I let the dog out a half-hour ago, it was still wholly dark, and as soon as I opened the door for him, I heard for myself what I’d only suspected as I tossed and turned through the night – the sound of rain. And ...

... the trees singing in it.

After the very long, very dry summer, broken only by a brief shower here and there, it seems to me that the trees must rejoice in the autumn rain. They get a thorough rinsing, a good soaking; all the summer’s dust and rising auto exhaust from the valley that comes to cling, off it all goes. The red-tail hawk’s nest on the snag, which I can only see when the nearer broadleaf trees are bare, is wet, dripping, abandoned until spring.

The sky lightens, and now I see that the air is filled with mist, the treetops shredding clouds. A bird, tough little fellow that he is, sings to the morning in the spent climbing roses. And, as I knew would happen, the rain and the breeze have stripped the sweet gum tree just outside the window of most of its flaming scarlet leaves. For my friend Mike, I’ll have to take a photo of the pool of blood they resemble now, lying at its base.

This chilly stretch of days before the winter solstice, when the light grows shorter and shorter, the nights longer and longer, is my time, my favorite time of the year. Soon, there will be fires in the woodstove – I know, because only yesterday the two cords of almond stovelengths I bought to warm us through the winter arrived, clean and dry and heavy, a huge pile that needs stacking at the bottom of my driveway. It rained because the wood came. It rained because we hadn’t stacked and covered it yet. When we do, and it dries off, there will be fragrant, cozy fires to back up to as winter looms.

The rain crackles now, ebbing away, and a new sound rises up the slope from the base of the evergreens – the sound of water, rushing and boiling down the irrigation district ditch in the crease of the hillside. It’s a soft roar, carrying the detritus of summer away.

The mist thickens into fog, and I smile.


lillebroer said...

That sounds so nostalgic ... reading your words I feel almost like I'm there, sensing the atmosphere you describe so beautifully. Yes, autumn is a wonderful season, the mist, the colours ... evenescence in all it's grace and beauty.

Like you, I love this time – going for walks in the crispy air, coming home to evenings in front of a cozy fire, curling up in my favourite armchair with a cup of tea and a good book ... 'hyggelig' they call this certain mood or atmosphere in Denmark. It's a lovely expression that can not really be translated, there's just no adequate equivalent in any other language. It means "cozy, comfortable, intimate, mellow, picturesque, soothing, comforting, familiar, wholesome ..."

Casey Kochmer said...

i love the autumn muse

:) just something about the scen of change


cloudscome said...

I love this post. Thank you for writing so beautifully of the beauty around us. I can't get over the amazing light these mornings... the maples here are bright bright gold and they are knocking me over. When it rains it is another whole kind of lovely...

Mojo said...

Well put, Wren. I just stacked some firewood this afternoon myself. It always makes my back hurt but I love it anyway. The old tarps that smell of cat urine go on the wood pile. Every year I try to figure out how to keep them from peeing on them. Stupid cats.

The soggy leaves got swept up and dumped in the compost bin, to become reborn into fragrant black soil in the spring.

A recently widowed neighbor gifted me some roughcut black walnut planks in varying degress of decay. It was a good excuse to share time with her. We scared some huge rats and spiders out of that "stickered" stack of broad, twisted planks. She is under the impression that the wood has value, but in reality it has deteriorated to the point that the value is in the time spent with her reminiscing about her dead husband's fascination with wood, and many other things. We both miss him. The winter will be hard on her, and I must stay closer to her.

It's going on winter. The elections are over. The seasons march on. Many things change, but some stay the same.

This post put me in a very reflective mood. Thank you.