Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Waning Days of a Delayed Summer

A tree on our parish's property

As anyone in the Pacific Northwest knows, we had a pretty late start to good summer weather. In fact, it was the classic “wait until Independence day for the switch to be flicked.” August was mostly beautiful, and September was (as it so often is) superb. But this October…well, it has been exceptional. With rain expected for the weekend, I'm cherishing this season with especial thankfulness.

Many of the days so far this month have been warmer than much of early summer, and the nights have been mostly cool and clear. I’ve spent much more time by our backyard fireplace this fall than is usual, listening to Dave Brubeck and enjoying conversations with friends.

The best part of this almost Indian Summer has been the biking. My, but it has been beautiful....

Something for which I am most thankful: this bridge, good weather, and the time
to enjoy it by bicycle.

Autumn biking is, to me, always the best. The already-warmed earth meets a lower-angle sun and air that doesn’t seem to “hold the heat” as much, making for a great combination of effects. I was thinking of this today as I made my way across town to bring Holy Communion to a member of our parish. The air was warm yet clear. The promise of a cool night hid in the shadows even as the memories of long summer days wafted amongst the tree-tops. Mellowness was all about.

Bringing Holy Communion to parishioners by bike is a
venerable tradition in the our church.
Unlike the spring, the scents of fall are complex—and at times, pungent—but they remind me of long-ago youthful days, school activities, and the inevitable cycle of the earth preparing for its winter nap.

Fruitfulness: Our Parish's Community Garden

Perhaps best of all, fall is a season of fruitfulness. My favorite Keats poem is all about this, and I’m leaving you with it as well as some photos of this extraordinarily lovely, warm autumn:

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
   Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

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.

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