Mountains and Good Tidings

November 8, 2012

Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth, WA

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off you like falling leaves.”
— John Muir, Nature Writings

Restoration on the mountainside

I saw my first mountains when I was 19 on a road trip to Colorado with my parents.  Now I live in Seattle, and (when it is not too cloudy) I can see the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains on the western horizon, the Cascade Mountains to the east, and mighty Mount Rainier to the southeast.  I love being surrounded by mountains.  They make me feel uplifted.



“To experience the idiosyncrasies of falling leaves on a visceral level, try catching them.  ‘Every leaf you catch this month means a happy month next year,’ I once read, and I’ve made it my business to catch twelve leaves each fall ever since.  It’s harder than you think, nabbing leaves from air.”
— Nancy Ross Hugo, Seeing Trees:  Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

Fallen maple leaf, early October

“The action of leaves in air, when they’re falling, provides the most compelling images of this season  . . . leaves twist, twirl, or spin . . .”
—  Nancy Ross Hugo, Seeing Trees:  Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

“Down, down!
Yellow and brown
The leaves are falling over the town.”
— Eleanor Farjean, “Down, Down”

Well, I’ve heard “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket,” but I’d never before heard about the beneficent powers latent in falling leaves to bring happiness.   This year I will have to try to catch a few.  I imagine this might be harder than it appears — you have to predict just where those wayward leaves might land!

“The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
As if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning ‘no.'”
— Rainier Maria Rilke, “Autumn”


Autumn Leaves

October 22, 2011

Fallen maple leaves blanketing the ground

“How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
to lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care.
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly,
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.”
— Elsie N. Brady, “Leaves”

Watercolor sketch of fall leaves

Watercolor painting inspired by fall

Another watercolor sketch of autumn leaves


Fall Falling on Us

October 18, 2011

Maple tree at Green Lake starting to change color

Fall foliage at Green Lake

by Edward Hirsch

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer’s
Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.