Fall, falling, fallen

Summer has lingered far into this strange, dry autumn. It was a welcome  guest at first, especially when it came to lawn work, the spade sinking easily into dirt that is often frost-crusted this time of year. But then, seasons never come and go the way they’re supposed to. Like the calendar, they tend to be just a comforting conceit, an attempt to organize the unpredictable. This is perhaps especially true in the Berkshires. Winter can often seem as epic and interminable as a Tolstoy novel, a siege state of endurance, a long hard retreat through enemy territory. Then, spring brief as a chaste kiss.

Here’s a poem by the American poet and critic Ed Hirsch about this particular moment we’re in.

Fall

by Ed Hirsch

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer’s
Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

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8 Responses to Fall, falling, fallen

  1. Cheryl Sullivan says:

    All of this is just wonderful!
    It has been a very mild autumn here in Maine and the colors were not as vivid.
    Autumn is my favorite time of year.

    • Liza says:

      We’ve had a mild fall, too, and most of the leaves are gone now. A stand of red maples, beautiful one day, were totally bare the next. I’m afraid it’s time to start hunkering down again.

  2. Beata Newman Scarpulla says:

    The photo and the poem compliment each other, going hand in hand.

    Both quite beautiful.

    Beata

  3. Anders Gyllenhaal says:

    We’re a few week behind down in DC, but you can feel her creeping in a little more each day, perfectly captured in this delightfully melancholy post.

    • Liza says:

      Only the beeches and oaks are still holding onto their leaves at the point, but the summery weather is hanging in there. And it looks like we’re heading into the 70s today. Anyone need their lawn raked?

  4. Carole says:

    My favorite season- what a wonderful post Liza!

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