The Bittersweetness of Autumn: To Everything There is a Season

in steempress •  2 months ago  (edited)

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 :

**NB The excerpts are from a previous autumnal musing which can be found here, authored by me in a similarly reflective mood.

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Oh the changing seasons, with it's beginnings and it's endings!
I have a hard time letting go of the lush summer produce of the garden and the blossoms when autumn comes in, leading to winter.
But oh so much harder is it to let go of a loved one when the seasons change and winter is upon us!
I can feel your intense love coming through your words, a love that will remain forever in your heart, that can give comfort through your grief - truly something to celebrate!
Such beautiful prose that really honor your father!
A big hug to you @riverflows and much love!

Very beautiful! I love thinking that at night **The spiders build webs to catch the panicking world. **

I once answered your question *What lives when someone stops their being in the world? * with this poem.
When a song ends we can hear the wind
the earth's turning is a comfort
When a voice is stilled
our hearts hold a pulsating sound
a purr

This post really struck me deep. It brought me to a thought that always comes up with the subject matter of death: is death really all that bad? (Not in any morose sort of manner)

I appreciate the point that you brought up about how life goes on, if we observe nature. In this line of thought, is death so bad? Well - it could be, but really we don't know. I appreciate how certain cultures celebrate death as a movement onto the next chapter, whatever it may be. But in Western culture, even that which is influenced by ideas of a positive afterlife (Abrahamic faiths), we heavily mourn death, fearing it with a spiteful eye.

I always get so confused when someone tells me that they've lost someone. I want to celebrate and be joyous for the one who has moved on, but I know the loss is also very large to those still here. Idk..

Your musings are absolutely gorgeous as always. <3

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Probably a dumb question, but do you have Maple trees in Australia? The orange leaves on the tree remind me of maple, but I wasn't sure if it grows in your climate, or even if it exists there as a native species.

I'm entering Spring, and it was really hitting me with all kinds of emotions. Every year the trees look slightly different. Everything has grown older. Some things have died. Even though it was a rough year when bad things have happened, nature wants a new opportunity to do things different. A second chance. I'm always reminded of a sour break-up that never mended right. In Spring, I am hoping not to make that mistake again. Another painful memory of a family member that passed away in Winter still feels like yesterday. The melancholy of enjoying the fruits of this world alone without them is a sobering thought. I think those who have passed on would want the best for me, but I still feel indebted to their generosity and kindness.

In Autumn, I always feel the reverse. It is like the first day of vacation after many hard months of work. Time to relax and enjoy the final fruits of our labor. The multitudes of auburn colors tinting the leaves reminds me of the fine wine that has finally become the perfect deep intense flavor profile after a long time waiting. The aromas are so subtle, and must be savored slowly to be fully appreciated. Even though time is running out, there are significant wonders to behold that can be easily missed if we rush through too fast. I am thankful to Autumn for giving us those last happy moments together with those who I lost. Truly lived to the fullest that life could give.

Thank you for the inspiration and taking the time to reminisce with me!

You've been visited by @thistle-rock from Homesteaders Co-op.

As always, beautiful writing and thoughts!

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.

.... and this is life!

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You've written such a beautiful and emotional piece; my throat got tight reading it. There's a lot of love in these words and somehow I find comfort and reassurance in reading this as well. You never fail to inspire.

I find it strange that as I come into spring, you move into autumn. I've soaked up all of your summer stories, and they bolstered me through those days when winter nibbled at my spirit. I too appreciate having four seasons, there's something about it that is comforting and deeply educational.

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