Autumnal Tears & The Glad Dance
Autumnal Tears & The Glad Dance
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Fall is without doubt my favorite season in this wild river canyon, with its heady intoxicating mix of brilliant colors, the smells of carnally craving late season bloomings, the sparkling liquid tumult that sounds somehow crisper than it did just a few months ago in the long days of Summer. And the light – oh the light! – with yellow shifting to deep and darker golds, the greens dense and forthright or transitioning into browns and bloody reds at the precipice of first freeze, the purples of the river cliffs glowing at dusk like 3D black-light posters. And the blues unbearably blue, as blue as the music of the sweatiest jukes of the South, as blue as the tears in your most bittersweet of dreams.
Fall is when they talk about an opening between the worlds, a passageway between past and future,between life and death and then life again. It is most obviously the mystical season, in a world that offers abundant examples of mystery and awesomeness in every month of the year. It is when thing are most determinedly enlivened, the senses hungering and then inundated, creation and procreation in high gear out of an ancient response to the inevitability of balancing limits and inactivity, deterioration and deconstruction.
The wildest flowering directly precedes the dagger cold of fatal Winter. Autumn is the bucket list season, the season when annual grasses froth with an abundance of seed to help ensure their kind’s survival, when horned and horny animals bugle and trumpet and roar in the urge to deposit seed themselves. In sight of impending struggle or demise, some species will rush to prepare to survive the months ahead, while others dance and fiddle in a final glad party.
Anyone who is truly awake and present cannot look into the face of nature, without confronting a reflection of their self. I thus see my own hurried attempts to accomplish my goals in the high speed gathering of nuts by squirrels sensing the immanence of bare branches and frigid winds, and in the bears’ stuffing of themselves before hibernation I recognize myself reaching out for and pulling into myself all the knowledge and beauty and meaning and patterning of life into me before whatever spate of rest ever awaits me.
It is the season when I feel the absence of those I have cared about and the loss of children I loved, with a sensation like I imagine an Alder might experience when an unavoidable wind tugs at their leaves and then one by one rips them from its limbs. And it is the season of sensing my Alder-laced roots, toes spread beneath the ground I have long pledged to, served, loved, guarded, and celebrated, the season of fervent readying for what can always be counted on to be an unstoppable Spring.
Unable to look at things from a single perspective, in polar terms of abundance or longing, I find it is my season to cry, but also to laugh. To accept there are limits to everything including giving, helping, and healing… while reveling in every caring effort, and celebrating every act of good. That nature is being killed by the instruments and fact of the very civilization we are a part of, but that nature will outlive and re-form after even the worst of what a scared and distracted human kind might do to it. That love is forever, but that things change, kids age, those we care about move on or succumb. I do not pretend there are no hard times coming, no unpaid bills or frost covered outhouse seats, and I do not pretend enlightenment always prevails over an ignorant darkness or that life in its uncountable forms does not each reach a conclusion that is death. Therefore I gather and store food ahead of Winter’s relative scarcity, store solar power for illumination in what will soon be shorter days and longer nights. And in keeping my balance, I find I also must notice all that is precious or caring or mysterious or lovely or true, must look to that which lasts, and must celebrate that which is temporal and passing or transforming and perhaps in time becoming unrecognizable. After all, I can see the dawn through the thickest blackness before first light makes its announcement. I won’t be sparing the earth my love’s Autumnal tears. Nor should we wait until some final party, to saw a happy fiddle, or to dance our thankful dance.
So get to dancin’!
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Categories: Jesse Wolf Hardin – Essays & Tales, Practicing Animá Lifeways, Relationship and Communication