Monday, October 24, 2016
I decided it was time for a late afternoon walk, and so I started out. But within five minutes I found myself transfixed by the beauty of the creek that runs behind my building, with beautiful yellow leaves waving above the pooling water. We had high winds the other night, and many of the trees were already stripped of their fall glory.
But some did remain, and I was reminded of the famous Shakespeare sonnet that begins "That time of year thou may'st in me behold/when yellow leaves or none or few do hang/against those boughs that shake against the cold/bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang." (Of course, it is now autumn, and the days are perfect, in the mid sixties or low seventies. We learned in graduate school that the "bare ruined choirs" referred to the ruins of the many desolate ruins of the many churches throughout England that had been virtually destroyed by Henry VIII, when he separated from the Roman Catholic Church and established the protestant Church of England in its stead.)
As I continued my walk, I found that again and again I stopped to witness some other natural beauty, perhaps a late blooming bud, or a striking upthrust honey colored bush, or a medley of colors created by the mix of fallen leaves (yellow, purple, scarlet) arranged on the ground like some impressionist painting.
But the highlight of the walk was the meeting with the squirrel. It first dashed across the street, then climbed a tree, and clung there staring right at me. We eyed each other for many minutes until it finally grew tired and rushed away. I have seen many squirrels in my life, but never have I stood eyeball to eyeball with one in this way.
Then, on the way home, I met a cat. It was, I think, young, since it was small. It was lovely in its sleek black coat, and it also wore white mittens. It was immaculate, as if fresh from a bath, and wore a little blue collar, so I am certain it had slipped our of someone's door nearby when they were looking the other way. It brushed against my legs again and again in a most friendly way.
Such was my walk today. I wanted to stay out longer and enjoy my mystical encounter with nature, but again I was reminded of a poem, this by Robert Frost (you likely know it):
It begins "Whose woods these are/I think I know./His house is in the village though/He will not mind my stopping here/ to watch his woods fill up with snow. . ."
Then it ends with the famous lines: "The woods are lovely/ dark and deep/but I have promises to keep/and miles to go before I sleep."
Again, this poem is "out of season," but I too had to tear myself away from my entranced state in order to get home and do all the necessary humdrum things calling for my attention. I wonder how many of us have had to sacrifice such
moments of sacred connection in order to take care of our "responsibilities," the demands of this world that keep our lives going in proper order and functioning.