Tag Archives: seasons

What is night will soon be day.

Ogden Nash makes me rejoice in the English language as it presents itself to his peculiar, playful mind. I liked this galloping poem, and won’t argue with it, because that’s not what humor is for. But I will say that the line I chose for the title of my post led me from laughing to silent theologizing…

TIME MARCHES ON

You ask me, brothers, why I flinch.
Well, I will tell you, inch by inch.
Is it not proper cause for fright
That what is day will soon be night?
Evenings I flinch the selfsame way,
For what is night will soon be day.
At five o’clock it chills my gore
Simply to know it isn’t four.
How Sunday into Monday melts!
And every month is something else.
If Summer on the ladder lingers,
Autumn tramples upon her fingers,
Fleeing before the jostling train
Of Winter, and Spring, and Summer again.
Year swallows year and licks its lips,
Then down the gullet of next year slips.
We chip at time with clocks and watches;
We flee him in love and double scotches;
Even as we scatter in alarm
He marches with us, arm in arm;
Though while we sleep, he forward rides,
Yet when we wake, he’s at our sides.
Let men walk straight or let them err,
He never leaves them as they were.
While ladies draw their stockings on
The ladies they were are up and gone.
I pen my lines, I finish, I scan them,
I’m not the poet who began them.
Each moment Time, the lord of changers,
Stuffs our skins with ephemeral strangers.
Good heavens, how remote from me
The billion people I used to be!
Flinch with me, brothers, why not flinch,
Shirts caught in the eternal winch?
Come, let us flinch till Time stands still;
Although I do not think he will.
Hark, brothers, to the dismal proof:
The seconds spattering on the roof!

-Ogden Nash

Drinking up this last one.

Some days the birds are so joyful in my garden that they appear to be beside themselves with exuberance. The finches and warblers gather at the chapel feeder, and then a few fly off into the trees to peck around, I assume for insects. A sparrow swoops toward the fountain, and then pauses, and twists midflight into a hairpin turn back the way it came. I have watched this fancy wing-work many times, as this morning from my spot by the table, which is now a sort of icon corner also. If the birds can have so much fun, maybe I should not worry about the way I flit about in my own little realm.

On a morning like today, when the sun is shining, it can be quite lively with titmice, chickadees and towhees, too. I’m afraid the hawks notice this activity; several times there have been brief encounters when they dive silently onto the playground of little birds, and the sound and size of their wings catches my attention — then they are gone.

But twice this month it happened. Once after the attack the raptor sat on the fence, backlit by the morning sun; I could see the shape and size of it, and the color of its breast. The next time I saw its dark gray back just before it disappeared. I think it was a Cooper’s Hawk. When I read about them, their habit of eating smaller birds was mentioned.

The last day of October is quieting my heart. I know, in the coming months it will be a struggle, to get myself outdoors as much as I know is sublime and profitable, but today was easy. Even the honeybees were enjoying my warm corner with the salvia that has many new little flowers on the ends of mostly dried-up stems. When I first sat down there, the bees were a little slow, but as the temperature rose so did their speed.

So many days of the month have been dreary and discouraging. I think at the beginning of it the plants were suffering from heat and smoke. Now they like the clean and cooler air. I forgot to water the succulents under the manzanita, and one poor specimen is showing just how it feels to be hanging on with one’s roots, conserving water, letting go of leaf after leaf while waiting for the gardener to bring refreshment.

But the majority are enjoying what might be their favorite, blooming time of year:

These last few hours of October are full to bursting with the beauty of the season. I know tomorrow will not be much different from today, in reality. But in our minds…. we remember that it’s time to turn the page of the calendar.

A jasmine flower just opened.

Hiding under their feathers.

THE BIRDS OF PASSAGE

You are the one who made us
You silver all the minnows in all rivers
You wait in the deep woods
To find the newborn fox cubs
And unseal their eyes
You shower the sky with stars

You walk alone
In the wild royal darkness
Of the heavens above the heavens
Where no one else can go.

When the fragile swallows assemble
For their pilgrimages
When the hummingbirds
Who are scarcely more
Than a glittering breath
Set out for the rain forest
To drink from the scarlet flowers
On the other side of the world
With only now and then
The mast of a passing ship
For a resting place and an inn

When the Canada geese
Are coming down from the north
When the storks of Europe
Stretch out their necks toward Egypt
From their nests on the chimney tops
When shaking their big wings open
And trailing their long legs after them
They rise up heavily
To begin their autumn flight

You who speak without words
To your creatures who live without words
Are hiding under their feathers

To give them a delicate certainty
On the long dangerous night journey.

-Anne Porter

Edwina’s September poem.

I only discovered this poem a few years ago. Being short and packed with autumnal images, it is perfect for a busy time of year, when you don’t want to let the equinox pass unnoticed, but you are canning tomatoes or drying figs or just taking all the walks you can in the crisp air. If you don’t pay attention to the calendar or the TV, you might miss the day.

For months and years I’ve been trying off and on to confirm that its author is Edwina Hume Fallis. New things show up on Internet searches all the time, and today I have seen enough sites that are confident about attributing it to her that I will accept it. Two months ago I couldn’t find two postings of the poem where her name was even spelled right. Most places it is shared as by “Anonymous.”

In the city of Denver, Colorado, Edwina Hume Fallis is especially famous, for her teaching and writing, a toy shop she owned, and her book When Denver and I Were Young. (I did recently contact the Denver public library to see if they had a copy of the poem below in their collection about her; they did not.) She and her sister made toys to use as props in telling stories to kindergarten students, and she did write over 100 poems; maybe this one was in an anthology that is now out of print. Many women bloggers seem to have memorized it in elementary school.

I wonder if any of my readers in the Southern Hemisphere knows of a similar poem that applies to the opposite seasons down there?

SEPTEMBER

A road like brown ribbon,
A sky that is blue
A forest of green with that sky peeping through.
Asters deep purple,
A grasshopper’s call –
Today, it is Summer
Tomorrow is Fall!

-Edwina Hume Fallis

At Pippin’s in 2017, waiting for the aspens to turn.