August 9, 2022

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Between Restlessness and Rapture: Autumn and the Sensual Urgency of Aliveness

When autumn comes with its ecstasy of sweetness within the orchard and its symphony of shade within the forest, it staggers us with one thing troublesome to call, some bewildering harmonic of the transcendent and the transient — every ripening apple an aria of pleasure, every shiny falling leaf a sigh, a homily, a dirge with out music.

Looking again on her life in its remaining yr, the nice French author, actor, and mime Colette celebrated autumn and the autumn of life as a beginning, not a decline — the season of “those who have nothing more to lose and so excel at giving.” Two generations later, whereas navigating a season of bereavements, Pico Iyer found in autumn existential coaching floor for finding beauty in impermanence and light in loss. We name it “fall,” however one thing swells in us as the times develop shorter and the bushes extra skeletal — the quiet rebellion of resilience that readies us for the self-renewal of wintering.

The Cowarne Apple, 1811. (Available as a print, as a face mask, and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

In The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (public library) — his love letter to the spirituality of science and the wonder of the wilderness — the poetic ornithologist and wildlife ecologist J. Drew Lanham considers the singular and sensual enchantment of autumn:

Fall is the time when nature speaks most clearly to me. In autumn one is handled to an orgy of sights, sounds, and smells that may be splendidly overwhelming. The stifling late-summer warmth is mercifully cleared by cooler air in a single day. Breathing is all of the sudden simpler and the soaking sweat evaporates. You need to inhale deeply sufficient to absorb each molecule wafting on the wind. The drained sameness of September’s deep inexperienced fades then flames into October’s vermilion sumacs and scarlet maples, lemon-yellow poplars and golden hickories. In these days of crispness I need to linger lengthy sufficient to listen to each sound and look far sufficient to see into perpetually.

Reflecting on the pure restlessness the season appears to stir in us and different animals, he writes:

The Germans have a wonderful phrase for it: zugunruhe. A compound derived from the roots zug (migration) and unruhe (nervousness), it describes the seasonal migration of birds and different animals. In this wanderlust I need to go someplace far-off, to fly to some place I feel I should be. Nature is on the transfer, too, migrating, storing, and dying. Everything is both accelerating or slowing down. Some issues are dashing about to place in seed for the subsequent technology. A monarch butterfly in a discipline filled with goldenrod is pressing on tissue-thin wings of black and orange to collect the surging sweetness earlier than the frost locks it away. Apple bushes and tangles of muscadines hold heavy. The fruit-dense orchards supply a remaining name to the wildlings. Foxes, deer, coons, possum, and wild turkeys fatten within the feasting. The air is spiced with the scent of dying leaves. The fragrance of decay gathers as berries ripen into wild wine. Even the solar sits in another way in an autumnal sky, sending a mellower mild in somber slants that foretell the approaching change.

The droning katydids, drained from their months-long work of filling the recent moist nights with tune, hold on into October. But quickly choirs of hundreds dwindle to lots of, after which only one or two. A persistent cricket tries arduous to fiddle in time however the first freeze throws a wrench into his rhythm. The rustling riot of turning, falling leaves and the mysterious moonlit chirps of migrant songbirds winging their option to faraway locations make my coronary heart race… When the moon glows in a mid-November sky like a pallid solar, I, too, am so soaked in wanting and wooden’s lust that I would as effectively wander like a warbler within the joyous urgency of all of it.

The Triumph of Life by Maria Popova. (Available as a print.)

Complement with Henry Beston — a father-figure for generations of such lyrical nature writers — on harvest and the human spirit, then revisit poet Diane Ackerman’s fantastic notion of living as an “Earth ecstatic” and a breathtaking animated poem about our connection to nature and one another, impressed by the seasonal migration of starlings.

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