The approach of winter
It's coming; I can feel it. A week or two ago it suddenly turned quite cold, and the grass, so recently green, is starting to show brown in patches. The autumn colors have become even more autumnal and muted.
But in its winter-is-fast-approaching slumber, the garden retains a certain spare and faded beauty. One has to get into a certain frame of mind to appreciate it--it's not immediately accessible as in spring and summer, or early fall.
Here, take a look:
For me, the worst thing about this time of year is the early sunset. Now if I want to take my three-mile walk outside, I have to start by 3:15 PM--any later and I end up stumbling home in darkness. There aren't as many other walkers as there used to be; just a few intrepid dog owners and the grimacing grim-faced runners who never quit, come ice or snow or sleet or wind.
Yesterday on my walk I heard a strange cacophonous cry that sounded like a bunch of small atonally yipping dogs. It took me a moment of looking around and seeing nothing to realize I had to look up, and when I did, there was a flock of Canadian geese in ragged V-formation. They sounded different from any other geese I've ever heard, and when I got home and did some research, I discovered that different-sized varieties of geese have different calls. These must have been the smaller ones, described as having "high-pitched cackling voices."
The day had started out cloudy to begin with, but now that it was getting to be twilight it was even darker. Since Thanksgiving is over, people have begun to put up their Christmas lights, and there was a family--father, mother, and two-year old boy--stringing their bushes and trees with glowing colors, looking for all the world like some sappy holiday greeting card, only real.
I searched for a poem appropriate to the season, and came up with this one, Robert Frost's "Reluctance:"
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
Yes, we're reluctant to embrace the end of fall and the beginning of the long cold winter. But it's always good to remember that in the coldest darkest time, when there are so many more months of winter ahead, the days start lengthening and the sun begins its slow but inevitable return.