Awaiting Equinox

Early autumn color at Brazos Bend State Park ~ September 18


It is an old drama,
this disappearance of the leaves,
this seeming death
of the landscape.
In a later scene,
or earlier,
the trees like gnarled magicians
produce handkerchiefs
of leaves
out of empty branches.
And we watch.
We are like children
at this spectacle
of leaves,
as if one day we too
will open the wooden doors
of our coffins
and come out smiling
and bowing
all over again.
                 “November” ~ Linda Pastan


Comments always are welcome.
For more information on poet Linda Pastan, please
click here.

62 thoughts on “Awaiting Equinox

    1. Hal Borland, who was a naturalist as well as a New York Times editor, once wrote, “Woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart.” In this case, a cluster of leaves was enough.

  1. Fantastic pairing of a wonderful photo with the perfect poem Linda! I’ve logged back into Twitter to share a link before heading off to bed. Thank you. The idea of magicians producing handkerchiefs of leaves out of branches is fantastic and your photo conveys those lines so well!

    1. In the midst of so much green, I smiled to see this small bit of autumn color. It did seem somehow magical, and it certainly suited the poet’s metaphor perfectly. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It tickles me that your spring and our autumn both can produce images to suit such words.

    1. That’s another difference between your winter and ours. We keep plenty of green, despite the browning grasses and fading flowers — and of course we don’t have that long, long season of snow. Still, while you northern sorts start pondering winter hibernation, we’re almost to the point of coming out of hibernation: summer heat and winter cold both can be isolating!

      1. I long ago came to the realization that there is no “perfect” weather place. We pick the least objectionable (or go where the work is!). We don’t have an overload of tornadoes (only on occasion), not much flooding overall (safe for bad basements!), no cyclones, sandstorms or hurricanes, and really, compared to other places, not THAT much snow. Temperatures are usually pretty temperate, even in summer and not THAT long in winter (though it sometimes seems so!). But I do miss not seeing green all winter!

        1. I hope you’ll forgive my smile when I read ‘bad basements.’ I remember those stories! It also reminded me of the most hilarious true story of airline travel I’ve ever heard — a quite true one, from a flight attendant married to one of my customers. I’ll put that together later and get it to you either here or via email, depending on how long it turns out to be when written.

        1. I hadn’t seen that. Not only that, I somehow missed knowing that Neptune has rings. Of course, I’m one of those that still has quite a bit of affection for Pluto. I found a marker celebrating Clyde Tombaugh in his home town in Kansas, and I just found this great line in the Wiki article about him: “To better test his telescope mirrors, Tombaugh, with just a pick and shovel, dug a pit 24 feet long, 8 feet deep, and 7 feet wide. This provided a constant air temperature, free of air currents, and was also used by the family as a root cellar and emergency shelter.”

          Midwestern practicality at its best.

            1. It’s amazing how many discoveries have been made since 1983, and how quickly they’ve come. Down here on earth, I learned just today about Saildrones when one showed up inside Fiona and had a lot of people freaked out because it was marked as a ‘ship’ on a traffic site. The footage certainly helps to explain so many shipwrecks through history.

    1. That’s true. Of course, our spring flowers also can produce bits of color throughout the year: Indian paintbrush are the obvious example, although firewheels and silverleaf nightshade also enjoy extended blooms. We could say that our seasons meet themselves coming and going.

        1. Now that you’ve mentioned leaves, I tried to recall other plants that do the same thing. I know I’ve seen the phenomenon; if memory serves, it’s often a feature of water or moisture loving plants. I think snow-on-the-prairie might provide some color as well; the stems certainly turn red.

    1. It wasn’t you. The link to Linda Pastan is working now. That’ll teach me not to double check links when I’m posting late at night. As for the ‘like’ button, who knows? There’s always some sort of glitch on these sites. Some people have solved that issue by making sure they’ve enabled cross-site tracking. The various operating systems like Safari and Firefox have changed their settings for that, and it’s caused trouble for plenty of people.

      I found this bunch of leaves at the end of a day that was as hot as full summer; it seemed to say, ‘This, too, shall pass.”

  2. A lovely leaf and poem, Linda, even if I would have to say that I only believe in that kind of ending for the leaves.
    I had never heard of Linda Pastan before (BTW, her link was not active when I tried it).

    1. Linda Pastan’s link wasn’t active because of operator error. That’ll teach me not to double check the links I add! She was Poet Laureate for Maryland for a few years, and I really enjoy her work.

      I do enjoy seeing light-through-leaves, and this bunch was especially attractive. We’re a little short on brilliant reds and oranges here, but these greenish-yellows can do quite well.

    1. Very clever! With her image of children watching a magician, she really did capture the open-mouthed awe that people (me included) often experience when the glory of autumn appears. Beyond that, your juxtaposition of resurrection and reincarnation reminded me of my favorite Iris DeMent song; sometimes it’s all right to let the mystery be.

  3. I love the light through the autumnal leaf, so lovely and affirming, even if it heralds the end of that leaf for this season. The poem echos that beautifully.

    1. Like stained glass windows, leaves often reveal a fuller beauty when backlit. The only thing better than seeing this leaf will be seeing more leaves in the cooler weather that our front will be bringing. First, there’s a little hurricane watching to be done, but maybe then we really can move into fall.

  4. I really hate not being able to get to your blog on my desktop as it’s where I read every morning. I see you post and I think I’ll look at it in the evening on my hand held device but by then it’s out of mind.

    1. I may have mentioned this to you, but different operating systems may be the cause, rather than the ol’ Blogger/WordPress conflict. Go into your system settings and see if under security/privacy (or whatever it’s called) cross-site tracking has been enabled. If not, change the setting and see if that makes a difference. A lot of people found that to be their issue after both Firefox and Safari disabled the feature – including me.

  5. That’s quite a mental picture — people opening up their coffins and emerging to take a bow! Not sure I’d describe Autumn that way exactly, but it’s very picturesque. We don’t have much Fall color here yet, though I have noticed many soybean fields have turned from green to yellow. It will be a while before they turn brown and are ready for harvesting. Happy Autumn a day early, Linda!

    1. When I read the poem, I thought she was comparing the reappearance of the leaves in spring to the opening of the coffin. It took me a couple of readings to get what she was up to, since she includes both autumnal loss and spring’s renewal in a very few short lines! In that sense, there’s an almost haiku-like quality to the poem, despite the different form. It suggests, rather than directly stating.

      I remember the soybean fields in Kansas from my fall trip there a few years ago. I grew up used to changes in the corn, but the soybeans were a revelation. They were beautiful.

    1. Autumn’s first color always makes me happy, however subtle it may be. I’ve had Pastan’s poem in my files for a couple of years, but always missed posting it in fall. This year, I managed to remember it when I found these leaves.

  6. As you found with this bit of autumn beauty, we are also seeing small pockets of color, mostly on maple and sumac, as October nears. It remains to be seen whether the drought affected the production of color and its durability deeper into fall. It wasn’t intentional but since I didn’t comment yesterday I can say today, Happy Equinox!
    Good choice of poem to accompany your picture. Pastan’s image of opening our coffin door to live life again makes me question our decision to be cremated.

    1. Well, maybe you could sift through the coffin’s cracks — at least, if the coffin were made in the backyard by someone not so skilled in carpentry.

      It looks as though some of our native color — the crape myrtles and cypress trees — is going to be dimmer this year. Even the Chinese tallow, which has the sole advantage of providing some color, isn’t yet showing signs. Of course, it is early, and everyone’s trying to rush the season. We should know better, but the longing to get past the heat and get past hurricane season is strong. Enjoyment of the equinox is being tempered by 98L at this point.

  7. That’s another one that would look fabulous enlarged to about 20″ x 30″, matted and nicely framed. It’s the time of year that reminds us of the cycles of life, its ebb and flow. The tide is now ebbing, but with patience and fortitude, it will flow again in spring.

    1. Your comment brought to mind a song I’ve not listened to in forever: Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game.” I believe I might have to make a post of some sort out of it.

      Speaking of patience and fortitude, I’m watching one example of that right now. When they did some serious trimming of the trees around here, several squirrels had to find new digs. One moved one building and six trees down: a bit of a distance in squirrel terms. Right now, I’m watching it do what it does every morning. It comes trucking back up the sidewalk to my feeders, just as it does in the evening. I guess everything likes going back to its favorite restaurant.

    1. I love both autumn and spring because they’re both seasons marked by significant change, but I think I enjoy more autumn poetry than that celebrating spring. A good autumn poem never is gloomy; I think that’s why this one suits the leaves so well.

  8. I’m starting to get the impression, that in addition to a bunch of blogs, and a bunch of botanical reference guides, you read a lot of poetry. You seem to have an appropriate one on tap for a mood or a special occasion on a regular basis. One can only guess how many are yet untapped.

    1. I do enjoy poetry, especially now that I can focus less on meeting class requirements and more on finding poems that resonate for me. I can appreciate some of the very old (hello, Chaucer) and slightly less of the very modern, but I have my favorites. When I find one I really like, I tuck it into a file so I can find it again when the time is right. Some people stockpile food or ammunition; I stockpile poetry. You’re right that there are a few still lurking in those files, just waiting.

    1. They sure are. But now we’ve had our first front, and it’s ‘only’ 71F right now, with humidity of 55%. It’s wonderful — although the enjoyment is being tempered somewhat by watching what’s going on in Florida. Those poor people are in for it.

    1. I love autumn, too. Spring is wonderful because of the wildflowers, but it can be fleeting, and we know the heat is coming. Fall’s a time to relax and enjoy the changes — especially the blue skies and fresh breezes.

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