The autumnal garden: decaying, mildewed, gnarled, wizened. I find it inexplicably touching. And marvelously beautiful. The brush of powder on an ancient, wrinkled cheek, a whisper of perfume that is already almost a memory.
The tinge of intense color on a fraying head. I don't really want to say too much; the wonder of this time of year comes of watching quietly as life recedes. In the Northeast we have had a long, slow fall.
There's comfort in the knowledge that life will return, in its time, and that, in our time, we will have the privilege of witnessing rebirth. But this season does not make me feel the need for comfort.
I find that I am less and less drawn to "spectacular nature"--landscapes on a large scale, whose power I recognize, but whose grandeur does little to move me. I'm not often in spectacular nature--you have to fly there, or drive there, or climb there, or sail there. It is usually out there, over the horizon, beyond an ocean, up on a mountain, beyond my time frame. I'm glad it is there, but it doesn't mean that much to me in my daily life.
I am more drawn to small nature. Everyday nature, in our backyards, or along median strips on highways, or in vacant lots in derelict neighborhoods. Small, but spectacularly beautiful. Nature right in front of us...nature that beckons: just notice, and fall into love. Somehow I think it is small nature that becomes most meaningful to us; small nature that leads the way into cherishing the large world.
It is the nature of nature to die. And it is a beautiful process, all the way through. Will I get to a place where I can witness my own aging as beautiful, all the way through? I think so. I think that place lies somewhere in accepting the small nature of our lives. We are mostly unspectacular, and spectacularly beautiful. It gives me enormous joy to be alive, a witness, a watcher, my attention caught, unexpectedly, so that I am quietly holding still, holding my breath as the season sighs.