The air is incensed now with woodsmoke and dying leaves.
A time when everything changes. Is not what it was. What it seemed.
First the spectacular dying of the year; the trees and shrubs show their shape-shifting nature. In the trickster hedges and copses, I sometimes see figures on the very edge of sight: a shape, a movement. Nature has her Carnival time. She plays, wears costumes and masks, she flirts, and dances until dawn.
Then drops, exhausted, under a covering sky.
And sheltering mists.
Now, the introspective time of the year. Time for retreating. For hearth and home. Kettle and comfort.
Ladybugs seek a bed for the winter.
I find I read more poetry at this time of year than any other. I write more poetry too in this pleasantly melancholy time of re-remembering.
My old journal is just about full. Time to get out the bookbinding tools and make another one.
Work on a poem jotted down in a sketchbook inspired by the sketch of a dying apple.
Every time we remember, we minutely alter the memory by what has passed and who we have become between remembrances. It's a slippery eel of a thing, memory. A shape-shifter when cornered. Proteus in a bear-hug.
In her website's October column, Jeanette Winterson wrote something which struck a chord:
“I come here [Paris] to live another life, connected to but not identical to my own. I read different books. I speak (not well) a different language. I eat different food and change my usual habits. Consequently I think about things differently, and when that happens, I remember things differently too. This is striking and surprising, as though the layers and layers of time and mind and experience and capacity will re-order themselves if given the opportunity to do so.
I felt relief this morning walking over the Pont Neuf with the dog. The relief was not just the happiness of a short break, though it was that too, but it was also a tectonic shift in my social relations with myself and my life. We are in relation to our ourselves, and that can change, stretch, recolour, recode.”
For me, this is the season for reevaluating my relations without and within. This is only in part due to its being my birth month - birthdays always give an opportunity to contemplate, to remember, to reevaluate. But it's mainly because of the season. The strong changes both without and within. A mirroring. A magical symmetry. A slow, slow dance.
Think I'll end with a poem by one of my favourite poets, Gwendolyn MacEwen, whom I posted about (here) a few months back.
Dark Pines Under Water
This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.
Explorer, you tell yourself this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green.
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.
But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.
* Gwendolyn MacEwen's works copyright to the Estate of Gwendolyn MacEwen.