Friday, October 29, 2010

10.23 Late October, Home and Away

We didn’t bring the camera.
The sky was gray, the air cool, the atmosphere – melancholy.
Romantic melancholy, full of all that had passed.
The woods were sere, brown leaves thick on the paths below my feet. Red-leaved shrubs fired up along the roadsides.
The trees had a different look. Tightening up for the serious season. Toughing it. Letting go of superfluities, all of those light, fluttery, lacey sun-catchers. Summer stuff.

Late October, Berkshire Hills

A new look, sere, bare
Full of all that was passing
The trees? Fortitude

There are always two ways (at least) in the woods. Behind Stockbridge Bowl, the path off of Olivia’s Outlook, called the Walsh Trail, breaks time and time again. I take the first one toward the ridge. The red blaze on the tree looks thirty years old. Who has come this way and not returned?
Alone, with the chance to get lost by myself, I watch my step carefully. I will be gone long enough, but not too long. The trail is tricksy. I break off and reconnect time and time again. I find the view from the “Ridge Trail” which I remember from previous visits. Go a little further, a little higher. A second, relaxed sort of summit with a cleared top, where someone built a rude wooden bench long ago. I stand on the bench to get the best view. In one direction I am impressed to see a hillside about seventy percent bare of leaves, stands of evergreen interrupting stretches of bare branches. In the other direction the trees are still turning, with few or even no bare trees.
We drive home Saturday night, and on Sunday, back in Quincy, a city, discover more of the same business happening here among the trees.
The maple in front of the house is peaking. Orange-leafed, orange-red, some reddish spots too. Some plants in the perennial back garden show autumn colors as well. The leaves of the green-leaved evening primrose turn dark red, then drop. The blue-flowered balloon flowers turn a pale, ripe yellow, almost like beech trees in the wood. The ornamental grasses have tossed up their seed heads. A grass called Northern Sea Oats makes thin, flat-sided delicate seeds – like stamped coins in the shape of arrowheads – tiny embryos bared without much cover, and let their leaves fade to a dull gold.

Who hath not seen thee [Keats asks of Autumn] oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor…

He’s here too, all around us.