“Essence of winter sleep is on the night/The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.”

14 Oct

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

— John Keats, excerpt from “To Autumn

Spring, the season of rebirth, was once my favorite season. Now, Autumn speaks to me in a way the other seasons do not, can not. She whispers her melancholy yet hopeful song through the rustling of her leaves, reminding me of the beauty and brevity of life. For what is more breathtaking than the crimsons, the golds, and the burnt oranges of fall? I like to imagine that each leaf has a story behind it, a life that becomes more valued as it grows nearer to its end. It is not until the leaves begin to transform from their ordinary greens that we truly begin to appreciate them. And soon, they are gone, crumbled on the pavement, shriveled into nothing more than brittle memories of what once was. But in between the initial emergence of life and the final, unyielding clutch of death, there is a period of reflection. When we don’t just look at the leaves, taking them for granted, but actually see their beauty, right before it’s too late. The sweet, autumnal aroma that envelops us is intermingled with the impending desolation of Winter.  Perhaps this is no accident; perhaps this is a trick and a gift given to us by nature.

Far too often, we fail to acknowledge the importance and joy that others bring us while they are still in bloom. Once they are gone, we are left with the chilly draft of longing and regret for what could have been. I was fortunate enough to witness the fulfillment of one leaf’s existence. Its autumn was longer than most—a year, to be exact. A transition between a lifetime of breathing green and an eternity of barren winter, a year filled with vivid, dazzling colors never before experienced. A year in which the falling leaves glowed brilliantly even as they met the supreme abyss of darkness. A year for all to savor, to treasure; a year filled with love and forgiveness. A year that has taught me to be grateful for all of the colors during all of the seasons. A year that I will cherish until it is time for my leaf to fall among the others.

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2 Responses to ““Essence of winter sleep is on the night/The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.””

  1. Mom October 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    Wow! Your piece on autumn is so so beautiful! I thought maybe it was a different entry by Keats!!!

  2. Josh October 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Your fall words touch the heart.

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