"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dogwood, Spring and Fall



The dogwood tree next door to us:
above ~ April 2016, looking south;
below ~ October 2017, looking north.

At Auntie Jan's House
in the South of England ~ October 2016

The following autumnal "Elegy" from Linda Pastan
(thanks Katie Field & Writer's Almanac),
echoes a letter we received recently
from Gerry's 86 - year old Auntie Margaret,
over in Reading, England. Bracing for the first
frost, she writes, nearly sonnet - like:

18 October 2017 ~ "The weather is still quite mild
but I get depressed as the days shorten
and one after another I do the jobs
that need doing to get plants through the winter."

Auntie Margaret, the poet feels your pain!


Our final dogwood leans
over the forest floor

offering berries
to the birds, the squirrels.

It’s a relic
of the days when dogwoods

flourished—creamy lace in April,
spilled milk in May—

their beauty delicate
but commonplace.

When I took for granted
that the world would remain

as it was, and I
would remain with it.

by Linda Pastan, American Poet (b 1932)
from Insomnia [see previous posts]


Gerry, in the Fall with Auntie Margaret (above) ~ October 2016
and in the Spring with Auntie Jan (below) ~ April 2017


a page from my scrapbook
45 - year - old dogwood leaf

May 1972 ~ Lindenwood College Campus
St. Charles, Missouri

Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, October 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT ~ More "Spring & Fall"
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Look at these beautiful greeting cards
that I just ordered for the holidays!
Dogwood Berries by Sari Sauls

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bright Blue October

See the black walnuts up there in the blue October sky, pacing themselves -- as Frost suggests the leaves should do -- to fall on my driveway in Indiana: a bushel one day, a peck the next; on another day maybe just a couple dozen, then an infinity nestled in the flowerbeds along the drive. I only pick them up as an offering to the recycling gods on yard - waste day; however, as wise Robert Frost observes in another poem, a crop's a crop!

In this beguiling invocation to October, he reminds us how enchanting October can be and helps us prepare our hearts for the season:


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

by Robert Frost (American, 1874 - 1963)
Don't believe what they tell you about
the sun never shining in the British Isles:
October Sky in Crosby, England!
Frost depicts the grape harvest and the autumnal tones of amethyst. And of course there are the many colors that always come to mind at the mention of falling leaves: brown, orange, red, yellow; or, more poetically, russet, bittersweet, scarlet, and goldenrod. Yet even though we are mid - way through October, looking out at my yard today, I see mostly green and blue. The leaves have not yet heard the call to change, and the sky is precisely as described in this lovely poem by Helen Hunt Jackson:

October’s Bright Blue Weather
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

by Helen Hunt Jackson (American, 1830-1885)
Hunt's charming conclusion is shared by Ada,
who struggles with the same favortism in Cold Mountain :

"Ada had tried to love all the year equally . . .
Nevertheless, she could not get over loving autumn best . . . "

Charles Frazier (American novelist, b. 1950)

What else can I say? Neither can I!

Bright Blue and Green October

Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, October 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Bamboo Trees in the South of England