Autumn has always been my favorite season.
Growing up in Spokane, the South Hill is always a lovely place to be in Autumn. I found this photo gallery of Manito scenes in the Autumn. Gorgeous.
I loved crunching through the deep piles of leaves on my walk to and from school. I loved building houses using piles of leaves. We would rake the leaves into a floor plan, and spend hours playing in those forts in the middle of the boulevard. Trick or Treating up and down Manito Blvd was always a big deal, with huge packs of kids walking up and down the street. My birthday is in November, so it is a season of celebration for me.
Now, though, my reasons for loving Autumn seem to be changing. The other day I was out for a walk with Elliott though, and the changing leaves and I realized crunching in the leaves didn’t bring me the same amount of joy it used to. I asked Elliott his favorite season and he said “Summer”. In my youth, I would have vehemently argued for the virtues of Autumn over summer. But when he said it, I thought, “yeah. I get that. What’s not to like about warm sun on your skin, lots of daylight, and dinner on the patio?
Maybe it is age that is changing my appreciation of Autumn. Robert Frost was certainly not a young man when he wrote “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
Age doesn’t depress me as much as that poem does. I’m not terribly maudlin about getting older. I far prefer it to the alternative. I’ll be 47 next month and while I wish I had taken better care of my knees in my youth, I don’t have regrets in my life.
I feel I’ve earned the grey hairs that are on my head. The wrinkles around my mouth and eyes are surely from 47 years worth of laughter. I’ve lived long enough now to have had some of the same friends for 30 years or more.
Like this tree I saw on my walk this morning, though, I do feel a little like this tree. Partly green with summer leaves, still working that photosynthesis magic. Partly turning, the chlorophyll fading away, leaving a different, more vibrant hue.
What is it you’re grateful for, at whatever season of life in which you find yourself?
I’m grateful for Justin and my boys. After 23 years of marriage, Justin and I have pretty much grown up together. And my kids are people with whom I would want to hang out even if I hadn’t given birth to them.
I’m grateful for my friends. Some have known me longer than I’ve known myself. Others are more recent additions.
I’m grateful for being welcomed into my birth father’s family this past year. My new sister Carol, and the McCourt family, more broadly, have made the navigating of the birth certificate revelations very rich and rewarding. These relationships feel like “autumn” relationships too–45 years of life is behind us. We will never know each other as kids. We can’t go back in time to be present for weddings, births, Christmas, etc. I will never meet my birth father.
I’m grateful for Southminster Presbyterian Church. Grateful to serve a congregation that is excited about being church and is willing to follow God’s call even when it leads us down new paths. Seven years in to this Call and feel like we’re just getting started.
And I’m grateful for a relatively healthy body and the ability and freedom to live as I’m called. I’ve given up on the toxic mindset of “when I’m thin, then I’ll…..(wear a swim suit in public, etc, fill in the blank–so many things)”. Now I’m just grateful for my body, for the lives it has born, for the experiences it has lived, for the grief that didn’t break it, for the love it has received.
And, finally, I’m thankful for poetry.
Here’s “Autumn” by Rainier Maria Rilke:
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
7 thoughts on “Autumn Gratitude”
by Mary Oliver
Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries – – -roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – – – how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.
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I am trying to learn to like Autumn, it is certainly a beautiful season. Your eloquent prose has given me a new perspective of this colorful season – thank you !
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Thank you. What is your favorite season?
Fall is my favorite, too … until May comes around! I love Rilke’s other poem about the Fall (the one that starts, Herr, es ist Zeit). I am thankful that I hopefully will never have to spend another Fall in a climate where there is no fall.
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May is a reward for surviving March and April.