Friday, October 21, 2011

October Gratitude

Here, in this deeply wooded land, I have a ringside seat to all this season holds. Each day the colours intensify. Less green, more gold and lemon, rust, orange and deep red.

Sometimes I stand rapturously with my mouth open in wonder. I wander around in a dream-like state, thinking of superlative adjective after adjective, a successive seasonal litany. The children I encounter on my daily little walks romp in a glorious shuffling of boots and fleece jackets. They gather pine cones and clutch reddening leaves in their hands.

I took my five year old grandson, M, for a walk in the park on a crisp October afternoon. Following an old ritual I recently read about, I told him to gather the five most perfect autumn leaves he could find, and that each would represent the giving of a perfect day to someone he loves. The collecting done, we stood holding our bounty on the pier overlooking the river. One by one he tossed them into the rippling water, calling out the names ... "Daddy, I wish for you a perfect day! Nana, I wish for you a perfect day!" The delight of the afternoon is as sweet, as spicy, as fragrant as a Macintosh apple.

October is a time of the fullness of ripening. Seed pods hang swollen from the memory of their petals. The orchards and fields lie bloated in their excess. Pumpkins and squash rise among their slow leaves and show their thick skins to the paling sun. Cool mornings ride on the hot air balloon of Indian summer afternoons. My arms take turns in wool and skin.

This, too, is the season of fragility. I think maybe wholeness is possible only when we embrace our fragility. It is a paradox, perhaps, that the only way to really be fully alive is to open your heart to all your life contains ... the sad and poignant and hurting, too. My heart often feels wrung, as if all the grief and joys of my life are stirring together in one large lump in my throat.

I always take pleasure in finding an apple on which birds have fed. We all make our mark on the things we touch, and the curves and arabesques of the birds’ beak is a signature to its hunger. Writing is like that for me. It is the food I carve my name upon. I feel much gratitude this October day to once again possess the strength to write.


  1. Reading this post has made my day.

  2. Wonderful post! The tension between the draw of perfection and the reality of flaws is an eternal theme of human life. It's good to be able to enjoy the sight of a bird-bitten apple. And my sister who paints autumn leaves says that the ones with little holes, tears and imperfections make the most interesting pictures.