11.11.2014

SMALL NATURE


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.

14 comments:

karensandburg said...

This captures so well the desolate and melancholy side of joy. Fall always make me feel this way, but especially so this year as it has been such an exuberant one.


And you are so right about us being unspectacular, much more like the small miracles in our back yard that are of course really spectacular! Great post for those introverts among us.

Flo said...

Oh, how did you connect this pov with introverts! Brilliant. I knew as I was reading this post that it was written for me, but I didn't realize it was the introvert in me who was feeling so thrilled, so nourished.

I wait all year long for this time of year, when summer flowers stiffen and transform into seed pods, when garish color transforms to greys and browns and tans, when I can finally bring them inside to behold and display.

I'm long-accustomed to family and friends' negative remarks, their queries as to why I've brought "dead leaves" inside. I feel most triumphant when I beat the landscape maintenance people to deadheading the agapanthus. Such elegance; I will try to post an internet link below.

Thank you Dominique, and Karen!

http://www.annalaurent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Agapanthus.jpg

Judith said...

Oh yes.

Joan McKniff said...

This extrovert loved it. Before reading your comments, I forwarded the post to a friend here in sunny Florida, noting that I so often feel this way as I walk from my front door to the cluster of mailboxes on the side of the street. I often find myself in my sleep tee mesmerized by the light on a plant in a new way, butterflies showing off, overwhelmed by joy and gratitude that almost by accident, after living and working on 5 continents, I landed here.

Heidi Naylor said...

This has given me a quiet moment of reflection today. Thank you! Here's a poem I love this time of year.

http://youtu.be/qEU3FrY64JQ

Linda said...

WELCOME BACK! Your posts are so missed. Your photos remind me of one of my favorite artist: Angie Lewin, English, her artwork is small nature. But it's your gift of capturing in words the simple truth of being alive. thank you.

Holly said...

I was just thinking of your blog the other day and missing the lovely writing and images and quiet insight. Thank you.

lindab said...

One of your best posts. Thank you, Dominique. Hope you are keeping well.

lemead said...

Oh, this is just so beautiful. I love the last paragraph, which I read without breathing and with tears on my cheeks. Yes. xox

MJH DesignArts said...

Thank you. Today of all days, I needed to be remind of the natural way of all life. xoxo Mary

William said...

Addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room, where in the hell have you been Dominique? :)

Goldie Stetten said...

All I can say is WOW! I have missed your lovely words. Thank you.

Mary said...

Thank you for your quiet thoughts and gentle manner of being. You have always felt like an old friend even though we have never me. We have long lost threads of connection. My husband was a classmate of your ex husband at the Country Day school in New Orleans back in the day. Your son worked for a dear friend of mine, Mary Fitzpatrick at the PRC in NOLA. I have read your many magazine (old school) editorials and books but never wrote to tell you how inspiring your thinking is for me. I appreciate how your mind works and how generous you are to share your train of thought. So many areas of interest we share: homemaking, mothering, grieving - just to name a few. I wish I was one of your neighbors as I am sure we would share a regular cup of tea. Mary Morrow Calistoga California

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