In the year 1052 Ou-Yang in his study heard a pattering and rustling, that broke into a great churning and crashing, like the noise of waves, or of soldiers going to battle.  Sent out to see what it was, his boy returned declaring he had seen no men and that the noise must be in the trees.

Alas, Ou-Yang said, the sound is that of Autumn, arriving with her desolate thoughts, bringing emptiness and silence to the rivers and hills, stripping the trees of their leaves, for Autumn is an executioner and her hour is darkness.

She sweeps the grasses and their color changes:

She meets the trees and their boughs are stripped.

True, Spring is growth, Autumn, fruit.

That is Heaven’s plan, that when things gow old they are stricken by grief ….when their time comes plants and trees are blown down.

But man moves and lives and is of creatures most divine. …when he thinks of things that his strength cannot achieve or grieves at things his mind cannot understand, is it strange that cheeks grow withered…. and ebony black hair turns spangled as a starry sky?

Who, said the poet, but man himself is the slayer of his youth?

(Adapted from Translations from the Chinese, Arthur Waley, a book  that has accompanied me since I was in my teens)

October’s right around the corner.

Just yesterday

was summer.

It had arrived

belatedly and on the sly.

Didn’t even knock.

Just burst through the door.

A welcome guest at sunrise

whom no one wants at two.

Stockings and sweaters

disappear into drawers.

Grass is no longer cut at noon.

Privacy becomes the word as

doors and windows keep out from in.

Feet rejoice in being bare,

needs reduced to a minimum.

But then overnight

that other guest arrives,

heralded by rain and fog

with offerings of cyclamine to soften her demands,

as fields grow green again

and every tiny seed makes its last stand

before the cold sets in.

In a game

of push and pull, she elbows out summer,

winning today,

giving way tomorrow.

And once again

out come stockings,

out come feather comforters

and sweaters, jackets, undershirts.

Doors and windows are shut tight,

hot morning showers feel good upon the skin.

Flames flicker in the fireplace.

Cats snuggle up on laps, stay in at night.

Footsteps echo through the woods

as chestnuts drop from trees.

The winds of fall come rushing through the leaves,

sending them to earth in a dance of death.

4 thoughts on “October

  1. Erika I cannot help feeling the cold breath of the pandemic as a cold wind as I read your last lines-1the irony of the virus in the fall…

    Footsteps echo through the woods

    as chestnuts drop from trees.

    The winds of fall come rushing through the leaves,

    sending them to earth in a dance of death.

    J Sent from my iPhone



  2. Oh, my! The entire life cycle is here. With respect to seasonal change, I used to regularly feel on the edge of a precipice every September. However, since retirement and being here where the seasonal extremes are less, I’ve changed my tune to be more in tune with nature.

    To step outside and work hard is very therapeutic for me. I can’t resist picking up more beautiful 🌰 chestnuts than I can ever use. And even now, there’s tweaking that can be done in the orto—some brave peppers, chard, the occasional bean and strawberry, some apples in various states of dereliction that nonetheless always taste amazing, fresh herbs, and one rose bush filled with glorious blooms the color of the cherry popsicles my grandpa used to buy my toddler self.

    “To every thing there is a season.”


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