It is Autumn here in Australia, and with it, a felt sense of bittersweetness - the ache that nuzzles into my heart, my solar plexus, as if my sense of will, my determined self-in-the-world, is being disrupted. It's tempered by the understanding that this autumnal fire is needed - it is essential that the soil rests, the trees soak up the winter rains. It's what I have always loved so much about living in Victoria, in the southern part of Australia. Whilst many flock to the more even and tropical conditions of Queensland, many of us relish the four seasons in a year, four seasons in a day that we have down here. Autumn signifies a slowing down, and it's achingly beautiful, too - flame red trees lining the older towns where Europeans planted oak and birch and poplar, the light that hits the drops of dew that hang precariously from the spider webs, the cooling oceans, the mournful cry of gulls, the shorter days and freezing mornings.
Everything is changing, transforming into something other than the heat of summer with it's noise and burning heat. Spring has long gone - we are cleaning up, ripping down the hops that threatened to take over the garden and gave us such abundance, plucking the last of the apples from the trees, raking up the path where the nectarine pips and leaves litter it in brown and fading green. It's hard not to feel sad. We have a long winter ahead. Yet still, I know, to everything there is a season - there is a time to sow and harvest, and times to live and die. It is the beautiful, poignant way of the world.
I think about the lessons nature gives us often, especially at this time of year, on the edge of darkness. It's okay, I tell myself, this is just a temporary state, and a necessary one - without it, there can be no life to follow. Somehow, though, this year and the last it's been tied more to my father's illness - he seems perpetually at the end of Autumn, metaphorically, symbolically. The decay has truly set in, and whilst there are many, many days of light and warmth and blue skies, still, there is the knowledge that his winter is coming, and the cold ground. I think of how difficult it for us humans to cope with change on this level. We know death is coming, but when we are standing in the cold breeze of it, we tremble, sob. But nature teaches us all the time that this is the normal, beautiful course of things. Our bodies are not exempt from these natural laws, and in fact, within our bodies the transformation is like the world changing seasons:
The breathe begins in the silence and in the darkness, just in that space where the last breath has finished.Follow it's path. It grows like plants that push-up from wet and fecund soil in that transition point between winter and spring. The moments that you watch, eagerly, for signs of life. There is a moment, perhaps a week, where if you look closely you can see the tiny buds arrived on the fruit trees.They are so tiny that they are almost still. The bare branch whips in the chill winter air. Unless you stopped to look, to really look, you wouldn't know that they were actually about to burst into their is-ness.The beginning of the inhalation is like this, coming naturally and slowly. It is world forming. Without it, there is no creation, no life, a continued darkness from which nothing comes, unless there is a transmutation of spirit after all. Yet this breath arises and works it's way through rib cage to the top of the clavicle and the throat and fills the body with vitality, prana, chi. At the top of this great expansion is pure light. It is summer. The bees are buzzing in your skull, tiny legs polka dotted with pollen. The translucent wings of dragonflies catch gold gold and white white from the great fire, agni, lit in the sky like all the songs you have ever heard sounding at once, and then the wings sparkle green green and blue blue..It is hard to feel the hope of Spring, though, when you know you will have to let them go and will never see them in a physical form again. My mind wraps around this like a tongue caresses a cherry - the cool surface of it, the tear of skin, the sweet flesh, the stone that breaks teeth. What lives when someone stops their being in the world? When we reach the end of our winters, there seems no burst of life to look forward to, no blossoms to come. The loss is technicolour, loud, awful:
The warm winds drift over golden fields of wheat ready for the harvest. When it is done with the open spaces it twirls through forest capillaries, lingers over arterial rivers and through them too, splashing over red banks, and the largest channels lead to the heart of the world, white aorta, white tunnels full of blood and life. The sun is high now and the sun rises to the tips of the plants the flowers on the buds that make the head grow light and dizzy. Then because in nature everything changes with the seasons so to the breath must leave. The contraction of the world is hardly noticeable at first. A leaf loosens from it's hold on the branch and drifts in the cooling air to the forest below, waiting for it's cousins to celebrate in a corroboree of decay. In the dying light they all gather in eddies on the pooling darkness. The night speaks now, calls them in. Everything changes colour. From deep russet reds to rich magentas to tangerine oranges to those the colour of dried blood, sanguine, dying, technicolour losses.Yet by observing nature, we know life does go on, even when we are dead and gone. We hold the ones that have left us in our hearts, and as we breath, so does their spirit within us. We breath for them, love them, hear their voices within us, love the world because they loved it. I think of all the ways I love the world like my father loves the world, and know I have a responsibility to go on doing this when he passes. When I go out on the ocean, he will be paddling there beside me, in awe of the sunrise. His stories become mine, get passed down to my son, my grandchildren when they come - they will be the Spring that comes after Winter. Things are just on a larger scale - from macro to micro and back again. The breath cycles through moments, the seasons through a year, our lives, generations, eons. And so, perhaps in the gaps of grief and dread I must return to this knowledge, that despite the transformation of my world, it is necessary, and right, and true and beautiful as everything else is in nature.
It is a celebration rather than a mourning. Nature knows that things will cycle back again. She just does not cry at the going down of day. The exhalation is a rejoicing. The spiders build webs to catch the panicking world. The diaphragm knows how to move.
Posted from my blog with SteemPress : http://www.riverflowings.com/?p=348
**NB The excerpts are from a previous autumnal musing which can be found here, authored by me in a similarly reflective mood.