Then summers long light, transparent patterns of leaf-light, days in the garden, hikes to the ocean, barefoot and jacket-free
(on those days that don’t begin and end with fog.
And then there’s is Fall:
of dead leaves
the earth ceases to speak
darkness takes over
is your ancient brain really certain
that light will return?
the drift of autumn leaves
is not my color
|Photo by Bill Fulton|
The Great Dying, I call it. The endless browns and beige and
straw, and the spent stalks. Autumn in Michigan where I grew up means fields of color. It took me a long time to see true seasonal change in California. There are fewer maples, elms are rare, and the oaks that like a wild display also prefer a different climate.
Finally, I began to really see color: the remarkable gingkoes, living fossils, 250 million years old, in their fall gold.
The persimmon trees, with elegant, elongated leaves that blush red. And for someone addicted to the beauty of words, there is liquid amber, with an autumn array of golds and flame, and the bright berry clusters of - listen to this - scarlet fire thorn.
|Persimmon leaves John Barger|
I become a forager
in autumn, cutting bunches of leaves and berries, and gathering apple oak galls in my neighborhood and from
the ranch we are privileged to stay at. I let go of my usual minimalism and fill the house with glossy teal pumpkins, baskets of oak apple galls, sprays of colored leaves.
Why must we turn white with age
while trees bedazzle themselves to death?
I mix beauty with ceremony, as the ancients did, and the spirit requires. We have a Mexican-Tarascan Day of the Dead cart, with a skeleton driver, and a winged demon riding shotgun. I fill it with gourds, miniature pumpkins, and multicolored baby corn, and I wander around my home admiring autumn and avoid thinking about the future - the mudsliding, sunless, windlashed underworld of winter.