Monday, October 18, 2010


The Autumn

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.

The first few stanzas of this poem really speak to my feelings these last couple of weeks. I’m remembering what a wonderful summer I had, relaxing on many of those sunny, warm days by the river and in my yard, and enjoying the water, the birds, and the flowers. This was one of the loveliest summers I can remember. Last year’s was short, rainy, and filled with mosquitoes. This year there were NO mosquitoes, and we could sit outside and enjoy the day without dousing ourselves in DEET.

The fall often brings me this paradoxical joy and melancholy. I love the beautiful colors and crunch of leaves under my feet, and the crisp air in my lungs, but I also feel a strange sadness—not a sadness that summer is over, but that SOMEthing is over and dying. It must rest through the winter, where I will cozy up and hide for a few months, and then spring will bring with it the new beginnings and the fresh start of the new year. In this way I feel like my "mental" year is dictated more by seasons than by months.

I think I’m feeling older this year as well. Watching Kathleen grow is an absolute wonder and a joy, but it is also a reminder of the years speeding by, and that what is happening now, will soon be “remember when?” I do find myself looking forward to her future, and what lies ahead for her with college, career and family, and in my next thought I’m sad (and angry?) that my mother is no longer here to witness my life and her grandchildren’s accomplishments.

There is also a restlessness in me that has been eating away for a while—a feeling that there is something more out there waiting for me, and that I need to do something about it to make it happen. I’ve always been prone to this sort of inertia—where thoughts and ideas spin around in my head like little fireflies in a jar—where the hope of making something happen just sort of floats there, trapped. The last time I can remember kicking myself in the ass to change this, was when I left my husband 11 years ago. I’m thinking it’s time I gave myself another kick in the ass, don’t you? Eleven years is a long time to go without exacting any true change in my life. This is not to say I’m going to kick BF to the curb. What I AM saying, is that I need to wake up each morning with a PLAN for what I’m going to do to make my life better. This is more than what I HAVE been doing, which is waking up each day and going through the motions. Hmmm….could this be my mid-life crisis? The timing seems right… ;)

Wow. This got deep. It’s a good thing there aren’t many of you out there reading this drivel—you might become depressed! My apologies. Read the poem again. It’s uplifting.

P.S. The top photo was one I took of Kathleen last week on one of our photoshoot outings. The other three were taken by either Kathleen or Madeline yesterday afternoon, and edited by Kathleen in Lightroom. Those kids have potential! ;)

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WM/Diane said...

It's normal, girlie . . . to fall into deep thought periods, to realize you should "take stock" and that (although life is good) there DOES need to be a plan of some sort to be sure you know what "Point B" is in your world and that you are working toward reaching it. I go through it every year in the couple of months leading to my birthday. You're headed toward a new period in your life, where Kathleen WILL go on to college, have a family, etc. and that's got you thinking to the future. It's all good, girlie, and since you have one of the most level heads I've ever seen you will find the way. :-)

dec0r8or said..., level-headed. It's all an illusion!

But thanks for the kind words and the vote of confidence, Diane. It's also good to know I'm not alone in my angst!

Country Contemporary said...

You're definitely not alone, Sharon. This Life thing is a process and I find some years autumn is a much more sad season for me than others, mostly because I'm not a big fan of our Northeastern winters and they're the signal that winter is around the corner. I like green leaves, and I love the reds, oranges and golds of autumn, so bare trees, which seem to last so long in these parts, are not my favorite thing. Still, this autumn, while arriving rather early by comparison, has been fine for me. I try to focus on the things about it that I love, and the opportunities it presents (apples, cider, and other warm-fuzzy things) and not so much on what it represents in the grand scheme of Nature. I've been diving into old issues of some favorite decorating magazines for inspiration for autumn/holiday decorating, so I won't feel like Life is spinning out of control...quite so much.


Rose - The Center of My Self said...

Autumn always feels in-between to me, a time to rest and renew between the bright, lusciousness of summer and the holiday/family gathering busyness of winter. It's a great time for reflection, as you're doing now. I recently posted on fb that from time to time I do a personal audit and ask myself "Is this still serving me well? Does it serve my highest and greatest good?"

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