The last colors of fall - Lake Maury
Pride comes before a fall, or if you live in Virginia, it's a hurricane. And after a fall comes freefall and a nothingness in the darkness.
When I wrote a while back about my dread for October my dread was misplaced because October was crisp and colorful, temperate and beautiful. But by now the gulf between my everyday life under artificial lights and the beauty of nature is growing just as nature goes into hibernation.
It's hard sometimes to deal with the minutiae and the deadly nuances of office politics when there's a vastness out there waiting to swallow us up. Four mind numbing hours of vastness just to get to the mountains and then a world of sweeping wind kissed escarpments, and I spend most of my days starting at a screen or out of the window at the sickly saplings that grow from the asphalt.
From now on in the light will quickly disappear. I'll stand outside the concrete awnings one night and grumble about the endlessness of it all with a colleague and the next time I'll have the same conversation it will still be dark and hopeless and light years until the spring.
It could be worse I'll tell myself. I could be in Wigan. If you ever find yourself in Wigan in November when even the rain looks brown you might want to slip into the nearest pub, ducking the darts that are aimed at your head, and drink yourself into oblivion.
Unbelievably there are probably worse places to be in northern England in November than Wigan. Perhaps Warrington or Middlesbrough. How do people ever get up in the dark in Middlesbrough and make it to their cars without cutting off their heads as an act of mercy?
The fall here has a beauty but it's fading fast. I went out in a hurry to capture it as the leaves danced and buffeted me down the footpath.Mocking, mocking and moving south. No time to go far. Lake Maury again. Just like last year; so we run to stand still like Joyce's character in a Portrait of the Artist his hands pinned by his side as he circles the track.
We laughed at Joyce then. We didn't take him seriously. Until the passage about the walk by the Liffey won us over. Nor could we appreciate the frail beauty of Gerard Manley Hopkins. We couldn't get beyond the pale and wan face and the repressed and unmanly priest, going through the motions to shut out human nature while betraying himself all the time with his pen in the rhythms of the natural world.
Only now can I appreciate it, in a time and place far removed when his words echo back across the years like an old friend whose letter you find after a long absence.
Spring and Fall:
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.