Monday, September 26, 2005

The Season of Loss

The very trees with hanging heads condole
Sweet Summers parting, and of leaues distrest,
In dying colours make a grief-full role;
So much (alas) to sorrow are they prest.
Thus of dead leaues, her farewell carpets made,
Their fall, their branches, all their mournings proue,
With leaulesse naked bodies, whose hues vade
From hopefull greene to wither in their loue.
If trees, and leaues for absence mourners be,
No maruell that I grieue, who like want see.
--Mary Wroth, Sonnet 19, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus

Watching the season turn is almost painful. The leaves burst into flames of color, only to brown and crumble. The sky shocks with its bright blue against the orange and yellow only to fade more quickly each day into the soft purples and pinks of dusk. It is as if we are given so much beauty only to have it taken away, to be reminded of how ephemeral it is.

Fall is also a time of many partings. Small children climb into the yellow buses that take them away from home to school, each day their tiny hands waving in the rectangled windows. And the parents, relieved in part, shuffle back home either to an empty house or to grab car keys and make their way to work. Older children leave for college, sending back only the occasional email or blog post. The birds, too, begin to leave, making their way south, leaving the trees quiet and lonely. It is not sudden or surprising. It happens slowly.

But it is also a time of birth, a time of harvest, a time of bounty, a seemingly overabundance before the long, cold, dead of winter. How can one feel such longing, such loss when faced with the round girth of a bright orange pumpkin? Or how can one feel sad when the orange and yellow of the maple glint in the window?

Summer leaves us behind, moves on to better places while we, like jilted lovers, must watch it go, its trail of bright colors almost blinding.