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Autumn-in-August reflections (08/22/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Is this really August 11? It may not be April in Paris or a blue moon turning to gold again, but this unseasonable weather is getting a whirlwind of attention. "Indian Summer" for Thanksgiving? Who knows!

On a recent walk, through a clump of grandfather trees, at the end of our street in Lewiston, which border the elementary school grounds, blustery autumn reflections kept tugging at my emotions.

Moss on rumply, scaly bark, a place one imagines snuggling under, soft and enshrouding, to take refuge from swaying willow branches as they brush against a grumpy atmosphere. What does a lethargic writer write in an unusual rush of the seasons?

Where do young dreams go when all is well? When there is no excess baggage to wallow in these bristling winds and naked skies? Tears are morning dew. Losses have turned to seed. Pinecones crunch beneath leather moccasins, a proper foothold for a sojourner in her midlife realm of cautious contentment.

For the earth is abundant and generous, rich with innuendoes. The silenced songs of summer birds and blue billowing skies are temporarily cloaked in gray circumstance. Though the sun remains hidden, we know that it's there. When puddles fade dry and as warmth streaks the kitchen counter, the fitting words will come once more.

Throughout my youth, I loved each season passionately as a frolicking participant...but I couldn't leave well enough alone. As the 60s dictated, Pat and I got married and had three children right off the bat. (No complaints - that's just the way it was.)

Rude how the great out-of-doors can snub an old friend, one who was thrust into busy work and silent dread of societal endeavors, with sparse time or incentive to reconnect with Mother Earth's energy. Now, those days have passed us by, our family grown. My former wooded "stomping grounds," more intricate and serene, defines my maturity.

Time spent in a forest can quench a multitude of thirsts. Yellow pads of butter, flitting finches bounce along a trampoline of buoyant air. Frisky squirrels play hide-and-seek. Maidenhair fern and tangled berry vines speak of centuries exhausted.

In autumn in August, fallen leaves curl to fetal ghosts of their former selves. Their points turn inward, as if to clasp what they can't let go of, or attempt to unfold from the plummeting to earth which gripped them prematurely.

Off to the kitchen, I take down my special seasonings in preparation of our goulash supper (in a season which begs for steak or hot dogs on the grill). I take comfort in the fragrant, steamy bouquet, and the blending flavors of a nurturing meal.

Down at my computer, reflections of confusion frown through a blank screen. The nudge of poetic inclination, which lights a spark within me deep into each autumn, resonate now in August...a false alarm, the images on hold.

Gazing at the two curling leaves brought in from my stroll, wanderlust sets in. Discarded leaves, that crunch between time-lost and promises of tomorrow, speak of inevitable departure...a kinder place to be. Doesn't it always comes down to that? We should be resigned to life's cycles by now.

An Arapaho proverb muses, "If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come." So let the fast-pace world tend to itself. Be it autumn in August, or down by the old mill stream, anywhere can be within walking distance if one would take the time and recognize the opportunity.

Patience is wisdom's gift...discovery, her reward. Be alert! 


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