Friday, September 22, 2006

To Autumn

"O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment.
As I gaze upon your full-colored beauty,
I sense all about you
an at-homeness with your amber riches.

You are the season of retirement,
of full barns and harvested fields.
The cycle of growth has ceased,
and the busy work of giving life
is now completed.
I sense in you no regrets:
you've lived a full life.

I live in a society that is ever-restless,
always eager for more mountains to climb,
seeking happiness through more and more possessions.
As a child of my culture,
I am seldom truly at peace with what I have.
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received;
may I know that it's enough,
that my striving can cease
in the abundance of God's grace.
May I know the contentment
that allows the totality of my energies
to come to full flower.
May I know that like you I am rich beyond measure.

As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty,
let me also take delight
in the abundance of the simple things in life
which are the true source of joy.
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment
may I truly appreciate this autumn day."

--- Edward Hays

Autumn is my favorite season of the year - I love the colors and the cooler air, but I loathe the shortening days. The hours of daylight have been decreasing since the summer solstice, but the shortened twilight becomes most noticeable now. No more do I have an hour or so outside after my evening coffee when I get in from work. It's darker when I get up too, which makes it next to impossible to rouse myself from bed. The cooler nights make wonderful sleeping weather with the windows wide open, and the crickets and katydids still sing me to sleep, albeit a bit slower now. The last few weeks I've been hearing the great horned owls and even a screech owl one night very late.

The farms I pass on my way to work are advertising u-pick pumpkins and apples. The weekend traffic heading west becomes unbearable on the local roads through the *country*, filled with people from away who come to pick apples and pumpkins. The summer beach crowds are gone, replaced with these same people to harvest peaches, then apples, then pumpkins. Before long it will be Christmas trees. I'm seeing deer again in the fallow fields and the young horses that I've watched grow up on the horse farms on the way to work are gone to begin their training for the racetrack, I suppose.

One of these weekends I need to get to Cape May and spend a little time at the hawk watch there. If no hawks are moving there is always the monarchs to see, or the huge numbers of flickers, or maybe a fallout of migrant robins. There is always some magic to be found at Cape May in the fall. What do you love about the coming season; what magic does it hold for you?


NatureWoman said...

I love the various colors of Sugar Maples, and mulled Apple Cider. The smell of leaves in the fall and the cooler nights for much deeper sleeping. I love the color of mum flowers and watching the goldfinches pigging out on my flower seed heads in pairs. I love the harvest moon low, big and bright in the sky.

LauraHinNJ said...

I think the Harvest Moon is on the 7th of October - it is beautiful if the night is clear. Do the trees have color yet where you are? There is one maple at my neighbor's that has been *turning* since early August - very strange!

Ruth said...

This is the best time of year for trail walking. The air is cool and often breezy, and there are no annoying biting insects. From the forest floor to the tree tops there is beautiful colour; berries, leaves, clouds and sky. Our leaves are colouring quickly here in Canada.

John said...

I love the crisp blue skies and cooler weather, though I am always impatient for much cooler weather. Trees here will not turn for another month or more. DC is really behind NJ when it comes to that.

LauraHinNJ said...

John: I've noticed that from some of the pics you post on your blog. Lucky you to still have summer there in DC.

Do you really like the cold? Don't you miss the birds? Or are you one of those people who like winter gulls? Zzzzzzz. I do love the ducks in winter, but could do without the gull-studies to pass the time.

Ruth: Hi! Thanks you for reminding me that the biting bugs are gone - won't miss them much. I love the frantic pace of birds and bugs during late summer/fall - there is so much activity and beauty in the woods.

samtzmom said...

The fall is almost like nature taking a deep breather from all the stiffling heat and being able to bring forth it's wonderful colors and spendor. I love having the screen door open and throwing an afghan over my legs while sipping coffee. I love that the changing of the leaves sort of sneaks up on us... one day the emerging colors seem mild, then BAM! you get up the next day and the world seems ablaze. Love, love, love it!

MojoMan said...

Just last evening I noticed something special about the quality of the light, partly, I think, because the air is so clear. But it's more. Maybe because the angle of the sun is lower, but the air is still warm. Except for the constant reminders that the cold is on its way, I love this time of year, too.

I thought I heard an owl a couple of nights ago, but when I rushed outside the calls had stopped. Maybe I wasn't hallucinating.

Lynne said...

I love the color of the sky, no bugs, cool air, color changes, but I think most of all, I love the smell in the air. It's the smell of leaves- gold, and I can't get enough of it into my lungs.

Sandy said...

Autumn is also my favorite season. I love the air, the colors, and the feeling that it is time to settle down and get busy. That must come from all those years of going back to school in the fall.

I am looking forward to pumpkin pie and all the other foods we eat to celebrate the harvest!

Yes, I love autumn best.

TDharma said...

what a lovely ode to autumn! Thanks for stopping by my semi-retired (for the time-being) blog. I am doing well.

I, too, love autumn -- it IS my favorite time of year and I don't really mind the shorter days -- it means I go to bed earlier and actually get the sleep I need!

LauraHinNJ said...

Samtzmom: I think it's nice to watch a particular tree, maybe one you pass by everyday, and see the changes day by day.

Mojoman: Yes! We have that great low-angled *afternoon* light most of the day. I love hearing the owls too, and still put my head to the window to maybe get a glimpse!

Lynne: Do you have a neighbor with a fireplace? I do and love it when he fires it up for the first time! The clear night sky and all the stars are so nice too.

Sandy: Pumpkin pie! Oh and turnips - I love them!

Tdharma: Hi! Do you really have *Fall* in Ca.? The extra sleep would be nice, if I were smart enough to take advantage of the extra dark. ;-)

Pam/Digging said...

I love your evocative ode to the rural autumn I love from storybooks. This far south, we only get pumpkins from the church sales and supermarkets (too hot to grow pumpkins here, I suppose). Crisp fall air can be depended on by late October, sometimes November, and our few trees that change color wait until December. Our Xmas card photos often have fall foliage in the background for that reason.

I love fall best, tardy as it is. It brings us relief from summer's heat and humidity, great hiking and gardening weather, washed-clean blue skies, fewer mosquitoes, the return of rain. The excitement among us of being out-of-doors again in glorious fall weather must be akin to what northerners experience after a long winter shut indoors.

debbie said...

guilty of apple picking and crowding the very road you are talking about. sorry

LauraHinNJ said...

All beautiful things you mentioned, Pam. Thanks.

Deb: You're not from away - you're entitled to clog up the roads. Where did you go - the Orchard?

dguzman said...

The best part of having moved north from Texas to Central PA is that we now get to enjoy a true autumn, complete with almost unbearably beautiful foliage, the far-off calls of migrating birds, that quickening cool wind, and--sadly--the shorter days. I too miss getting to come home and hang out in the backyard taking pictures, watching the birds take their evening meal, and enjoying the sun turn everything to gold. Nothing beats these crisp days, a huge full harvest moon, picking apples, and eating pumpkin pie with tons of whipped cream on it!