Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Amazing Thing about Autumn—Carolyn R. Wilker

Fall display at the Farmers'  Market in St. Jacob's

The poem I memorized in school, when we did memory work, comes back to me each year at this time. “Along the line of smoky hills, the crimson forest stands…” William Wilfred Campbell must have been standing outdoors taking in the wild colours of autumn, watching the birds fly south. His poem, Indian Summer, remains one of my favourites about this time of year. I can see it as I say the words, and I can almost smell the change in air. Unlike the steady greens of summer foliage, the whole landscape changes with the coming of the cooler air. There’s a gradual changeover from summer to fall and sometimes we barely have time to see it when all of a sudden the cool days come sneaking in and we pull out sweaters and warmer jackets and tuck the sandals in the back of the closet.
black-eyed Susans still blooming
the sedum that was green all summer is now in colour

We’re past the hot, hot days we’ve experienced in the summer, and yet many days are still comfortable with cooler nights and mornings. Tonight my husband and I covered our garden plants, particularly the tomatoes, for there are small ones yet to ripen though many of the branches have withered that once bore fruit.

It’s amazing, when you think of it how such a glory of colours should come  just before the earth goes to sleep for winter. The summer flowers are shrivelling but the chrysanthemums burst into beautiful colour and stay with us a little while longer. My morning glories are nearing their end too. There are still some blooms in the morning but the numbers dwindle and now I’m collecting seeds from the plants as the leaves shrivel and drop. I save the seed for next year’s growing season.

Mums showing off their fall colour

When autumn comes to an end in this part of Ontario, we see brown earth and the trees shed their leaves leaving skeletons as silhouettes against the sky. The air grows much colder and soon we’re wearing warm coats, hats and mittens against the cold.

Why the beauty just before the end of the season? I’m glad of it though. It just seems like such a contrast. Winter is often equated with death and dark times of grief when we’re not so productive, but those seasons of growth are embedded in our memories to reappear sometime later, just as spring comes again and the earth comes back to life. 

Just as the philosopher in Ecclesiastes wrote: “A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap.” We have those seasons in our lives too and a Creator who built in those possibilities. Let us give thanks for the times of beauty, for the times of productivity, and know that God is with us all of those seasons, when we dance and when we weep, when we celebrate and when we refrain from festivities. For now though, I’m going to enjoy the colours of autumn and watch the birds fly south just as Campbell must have done that inspired his poem.

Carolyn Wilker is a writer and editor from southwestern Ontario


Peter Black said...

Carolyn, your pensive piece here - despite the possibilities for a touch of melancholy that can accompany autumn and the approach of winter - is as cheerful and bright as the beautiful pictures of fall colour that you've included. I enjoyed it. Thank you. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Carolyn, I think you would have liked my Mom. She was quite a poet and the fascinating thing was she had so many memorized. And not short ones, either. The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson & The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and so many more. I loved listening to her recite her work.

Your descriptions are lovely and I am thinking how a poem could exude from your fingers after some of these lovely word pictures. And I am glad you are enjoying the fall colours. They seemed extra beautiful this year - not sure if that was so or if I pondered for a moment longer this year!

Nice, reflective post. Thanks, Carolyn.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Peter and Glynis, for your kind comments. Glad I decided to take the camera along to market last week. There was much colour to feast one's eyes on. :)

Glynis, I think I would have liked your Mom. I do love to listen to people recite poetry. If you check my new poetry blog, you can read one that I wrote about fall. Quite different from Campbell's.


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