This haiga appeared on Daily Haiga on March 23, 2016. I would like to thank my dear friend, Sheppy Vann, for allowing me to use her beautiful photograph for this piece.
Here is the link to the original: http://www.dailyhaiga.org/haiga-archives/1805/-fall-s-footrpints-by-mary-kendall-usa
This morning I woke up knowing a change was in the air. With intermitent gusts of wind, my garden feels different. From my porch where I sit writing this, I hear cardinals talking to one another in soft chirpy sounds, not full song. A nuthatch scampers up and down the tree trunks hoping to find a tasty insect for its mid-morning snack. What is clearer though is the background sound–the small insects that hum and buzz in notes I can’t clearly discern. All I hear is a constant high pitched sound–but it is a soft sound, not the commanding songs the cicadas sing. A chickadee now scolds someone, probably my dog who is suddenly interested in wandering in our back woods.
The breeze comes and goes. Wind chimes sing their beautiful songs. Leaves shudder and flow in the wind, then settle down to stillness. A large robin sits in the birdbath drinking in the water, probably for the last time before it makes its long migration down to southern Florida. Now a flock of crows jeers at something, most likely the red-tailed hawk that lives nearby. And since I’ve sat here long enough, a single butterfly sips from the last flowers of the purple buddleiah bush. It is a yellow swallowtail and probably the very last one I will see this year. There have been no others all week. A female cardinal visits the other bird bath. Luckily these beautiful red birds don’t migrate from here. They will stay all winter long, and I will put birdseed out for them each day.
Autumn has always been my favorite season since I was a little girl. I grew up in the northern climate of Buffalo, New York where the lake winds brought the strong Canadian coolness and fall was often upon us in early September. Not so here down south. Here, North Carolina weather can change in an hour. We can have this first taste of fall and tomorrow might bring back the heat of summer.
Life in the United States changes with this season since children return to school, vacations are pretty much over, and everyone settles in. I find myself cooking soups once again. Last night I made Italian Wedding Soup, a perfectly delicious way to welcome the change in seasons.
Fall or autumn? I grew up calling it ‘fall’ and with the obvious falling of leaves, that word makes good sense, but the poetic side of me loves the word ‘autumn.’ I love saying the word, hearing it, feeling it on the tongue. Autumn is delicious! And ‘autumnal’ is divine. Who can resist the beauty of this season? Not me.
Here are three other poems–two tanka and one haiku– to welcome this special season and day of the autumnal equinox.
in a slow dance—
the moment when day
when time is equal—
if only one day
could be like this
does the old barn ever dream
of being a tree?
Note: My thanks to Michael Todd for allowing me to use his beautiful photograph of an old barn in Spring Creek, Tennessee. Pictures like this are always such an inspiration.
“In my End is my Beginning”
The End of Autumn
How could we pass through autumn
without thinking about life.
Life and death.
Life and birth.
Birth and death.
The book ends of our existence
with pauses of space in between
waiting for us to write the chapters
that will fill the empty volume
that eventually defines a life.
These photos were taken by me at the Duke Hospice at The Meadowlands in Hillsborough, North Carolina. This hospice is set on an old farmstead in rural Orange county. The hospice and grounds are a wonderful gift to all who pass through.
An Autumn Long Gone ~ a Reverie (prose poem)
An audio of me reading this prose poem can be heard by clicking the link below. It will take a few seconds for the sound to begin.
It was the year we lived in London, some 25 years ago, when autumn began like any other autumn. The fall, the changing, the color shifting, the soft breezes, the sporadic thick fog and the leaves dancing, even floating upward at times. What I hadn’t anticipated, being so far north for the first time, was how short the days grew. How dark it became earlier and earlier all during that autumn. The days were ‘closing in.’ That’s what they called it, and I loved that phrase. It brought a certain comfort of pulling heavy curtains closed and shutting out the darkness. It was a time for wearing coats and warm sweaters, and I dressed my son in practical English clothing and soft grey mittens while he ran ahead enjoying what was left of the day. He was only three, but he knew the delight in using what was left of the day’s sunlight. I learned to enjoy the simple pleasures around me that came with this quiet season. Victoria plums were my new delight. They appeared at the Greengrocer’s shop just as autumn set in, later replaced by apples—Bramley and Cox’s Orange Pippins, names that twirled on the tongue and tasted as good. Burning leaves were an unexpected, half-loved sensory pleasure. The smoke was pungent, but it brought back memories of childhood. I loved even the rasp of raking, bamboo or metal combs gathering leaves in sacred piles waiting their turn to be sacrificed in an autumnal pyre. In the English light, I found the colors were softer, quieter than the brilliance of New England woodlands. Each morning I left my son at school and then walked through Hampstead Heath. I found my own favorite route through woods and meadows up to the large ponds. Purchasing a single cup of tea that warmed my hands, I made my way to that empty bench that faced the pond. I thought about all the people it had held before. And every day without fail a lone Scottish piper played his bagpipes as if on cue. Each day I sat and listened. A world so far from my own. From where he stood near the peak of Parliament Hill, the mournful songs became a wordless chanting, charging the air with a lamentation to this closing season, every day briefer, softer than the day before.