This has been a spectacular color season, one of the most brilliant I remember since moving to New Hampshire six years ago. Fall has always been my favorite season, and more so here since the mountains and foliage create such a dramatic backdrop. Because of the drought this year, I wondered if the colors wouldn’t be duller than usual, but that hasn’t proved to be the case–the reds, in particular, seem particular striking. The effect has been magnified by the magnificent weather we’ve been having.
A couple of weeks ago we went up to Mt. Washington, and took the cog railway to the top. The drive was beautiful, though the day wore me out and I needed to sleep over 12 hours when we got back.
These days are so fleeting, however, that I continue to push myself to make sure I don’t miss them, and so I drove through southern Vermont on Friday to take in one last session this weekend at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Here, too, the fall foliage was in full display, and with the effect of the afternoon sun, simply stunning.
Omega Institute in fall
Of course, I can’t help but think that this might be my last fall–or at minimum, the last one I’m able to enjoy as I am enjoying this one. These thoughts, while somewhat inevitable given my condition, don’t really spoil the experience or intrude on my enjoyment, but make it even sharper and more intense than autumn usually is for me. The beauty of fall is brief, the colors brilliant but impermanent, and as Robert Frost writes so eloquently in the poem below, force us to yield to nature–in both its splendor and decay– with grace.
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question “Whither?”
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?