A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains – a melancholy nature. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail. ~Henri Frederic Amiel
What is melancholy
at first glance
when studied up close
in the right light.
It can’t be all sadness~
there is solace in knowing
the landscape and I share ~a state of the soul~
an inner world of tears
nevertheless forever illuminated.
You can change the world with a hot bath, if you sink into it from a place of knowing you are worth profound care, even when you are dirty and rattled. Who knew? ~Anne Lamott from Small Victories
As a farmer, I spend at least a part of every day muddy and up to my elbows in muck. I call my barn life “the real stuff” when the rest of my day is spent dealing with “virtual stuff ” which leaves me dirty and rattled nonetheless. I prefer the real over virtual muck although it smells worse, leaves my fingernails hopelessly grimy and is obvious to everyone where I’ve been.
The stains of the rest of my day are largely invisible to all but me and far harder to scrub away.
It is so much easier to deal with the barnyard over bureaucracy; what soils us can be washed off and we’re restored for another day of wallowing in our muck boots. On the farm is the grace of drawing up clean warm water, soaping with the suds that truly cleanse, a sinking down into a deep tub of renewal.
God knows well what a washing we need.
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The birds do not sing in these mornings. The skies are white all day. The Canadian geese fly over high up in the moonlight with the lonely sound of their discontent. Going south. Now the rains and soon the snow. The black trees are leafless, the flowers gone. Only cabbages are left in the bedraggled garden. Truth becomes visible, the architecture of the soul begins to show through. God has put off his panoply and is at home with us. We are returned to what lay beneath the beauty. We have resumed our lives. There is no hurry now. We make love without rushing and find ourselves afterward with someone we know well. Time to be what we are getting ready to be next. This loving, this relishing, our gladness, this being puts down roots and comes back again year after year. ~Jack Gilbert “Half the Truth”
Time to be what we are getting ready to be next.
Once again comes
a slowing of days and lengthening of nights;
we are being prepared for months of stillness and silence
without the rush and hurry
of madding lives.
I relish this time
peering past a vanishing beauty
to discern the Truth.
The world does not need words. It articulates itself in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted. The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds, painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it. The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always– greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon. ~Dana Giola from “Words”
The words the world needs is the Word itself;
because He breathed breath into us
and said that it was good.
Whatever we have to say about His Creation
pales compared to His it is good
But we try
over and over again
to use words of wonder and praise
to express our awe and gratitude and amazement
while painted golden by His breath of Light.
My mother and I debate: we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage. Likely some storm anyway will churn down its dark boughs, smashing the house. We talk slowly, two women trying in a difficult time to be wise. Roots in the cellar drains, I say, and she replies that the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather away. But something brighter than money moves in our blood – an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow. So we talk, but we don’t do anything.
What my mother and I both know is that we’d crawl with shame in the emptiness we’d made in our own and our fathers’ backyard. So the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit, and, month after month, the whip- crack of the mortgage. ~Mary Oliver from “The Black Walnut Tree” from Twelve Moons
We bought this old farm twenty five years ago:
the Lawrence family “Walnut Hill Farm”~
a front yard lined with several tall black walnut trees
brought as seedlings in a suitcase from Ohio
in the ought-1900’s.
These trees thrived for 80 years on this hilltop farm
overlooking the Canadian mountains to the north,
the Nooksack River valley to the west,
the Cascade peaks to the east,
each prolific in leaves
and prodigious in fruit.
The first year we were here,
a windstorm took one tree down.
A neighbor offered
to mill the twisted trunk for shares
so the fallen tree became planks
of fine grained chocolate hued lumber.
This old tree lines our kitchen cupboards,
a daily reminder of an immortality
living on in a legacy left behind~
sturdy while imperfect,
so beautiful to the eye and the heart.
I know all too well that the end of October means the light changes, the colors fade, and the chill sets in. I grasp and bundle up what scenes I can preserve now, like harvesting hay to be tied up in bales and stored safely until the middle of winter. Then, at the right time, when I’m most hungry for color and light, I loosen the strings and let the images tumble out, feeding me like mother’s milk.
And then there is that day when all around, all around you hear the dropping of the apples, one by one, from the trees. At ﬁrst it is one here and one there, and then it is three and then it is four and then nine and twenty, until the apples plummet like rain, fall like horse hoofs in the soft, darkening grass, and you are the last apple on the tree; and you wait for the wind to work you slowly free from your hold upon the sky, and drop you down and down. Long before you hit the grass you will have forgotten there ever was a tree, or other apples, or a summer, or green grass below, You will fall in darkness… ~Ray Bradbury from Dandelion Wine
We are in the midst of our annual October storms complete with pelleting sheets of rain and gusty breezes. Along with power outages and an ever-present risk of flooding, these storms facilitate the annual “falling of the fruit” from our trees. It is risky to walk in the orchard this time of year – one could stroll about enjoying the brisk temperatures and autumn colors and be unexpectedly bonked on the head and knocked out cold.
The apples thud like horse hooves in the grass as our Haflingers race about in the cool wet weather enjoying the last bit of freedom before the winter lock up. Apples thud like over large rain drops but without the splatter. Apples thud after gradually loosening their hold on the sky and plummeting to come to rest on a soft carpet of green.
I recognize this call to let go, although clinging tenaciously when buffeted, my strength waning. Thought I fret and worry, the time must come for the pulled-forth fall. I may land a bit bruised, but will glisten golden from the journey.