Friday, October 26, 2012

I Love The Fall

"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn." (Elizabeth Lawrence)

The neighbor's trees on Crown Street above our house
I've occasionally written about the seasons here...haikus and random musings.  But I was surprised to discover that I had never written anything about fall!  Winter, spring, and summer had all drawn my writer's eye towards their wonders, but not autumn?  Autumn has always been my most favorite time of the year, especially as I've gotten older.

I love the fall, so let me turn my attention to my seasonal sweetheart and explore all that makes it special to me.

The "Jon" maple in my parents' back yard


The trees all aglow in rich reds, glowing golds, and opulent oranges.  Every tree is a Roman candle, bright and warm...each a fall firecracker, their leaves an explosion of color....The hills around my home are a rolling checkerboard of green and orange - pines and oaks scrambling to outshine each other....  The golden carpet that our birch tree lays down on our backyard each year for me to rake up...fog gently wrapping itself around my world on a Saturday morning and whispering "Stay inside - it's cold out here!"...A shy green acorn squash, flashing an orange underside to me, like some saucy Parisian mademoiselle.


Leaves crackling and crunching under my feet...raindrops pitter-pattering on my roof, dancing a jig on their way to the ground...the roar of a crowd at a Friday night high school football game, erupting as the home team scores...The skritch-skratch of my rake as the two of us round up a rambunctious herd of leaves into a meek mountain...

Our backyard in October

Smoke lazily tickling my nose...from the neighbor's chimney...from the burn pile in the field of my parents' home on Oktoberfest...Cinnamon and spice...from buns baking and candles flickering...tomato and herbs bubbling in a soup pot, stirred by my wife, welcoming me home with an aromatic embrace...The scent of the first raindrops...I bet you didn't know that "wet" and "green" had a unique smell!  It does in Oregon....The endearing elixir called "A Home at Thanksgiving"...roast turkey and pumpkin pie...cranberries and rolls...sage and spice...all rolled together, which spells "love"...

"Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns." (George Eliot)

So before the world puts on its grim grays and wooly whites of winter, I hope you get outside and enjoy the fall, wherever you live.  You wouldn't want to miss the party! (this poem made me laugh, and reminded me of my Mom!)

October's Party (George Cooper)

October gave a party
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand.
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beauty Is In The Heart

"In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty" (Christopher Morley)

To begin with today, before you read any further, I have an assignment for you. "Rats!", I hear you mumble under your breath.  "I just sat down!  I hate homework!  What kind of rotten blog-ographer are you?  I just wanted to read something light and funny while I sipped my coffee!"... 

Please continue on.  It'll be worth it.  I promise - it won't hurt.

Click on this link below and watch the entire video to the end.  It'll be good for you.  Trust me.

A Surprise Celebration in Sabadell, Spain

Did you watch it?  Good!  I told you you'd like it!  I did too the first time I saw it this summer, and it's stuck with me ever since.

Sabadell, Spain is a city of 207,721 people in NE Spain - about 12 miles from Barcelona.  On May 19, 2012, a banking organization organized this flash mob performance in homage of the city (and the bank's 130th anniversary!).  The city's orchestra and choirs all agreed to perform Beethoven's final movement to his 9th Symphony, known as his "Ode To Joy".

The whole performance was stunning and inspiring - the music was bright and lifted my heart - and I'm sure it did the same for you.  Which led me to ponder this inescapable question:

How is it that Beauty seems to be Universal?

Watch the video again if you like, and notice what I noticed:

  • How just the very first notes played by the cellists stopped people in their tracks.  Young and old.  Men walking to work.  Women with their strollers.  Tourists with cameras.  Grade school kids. The little girl in pink who stands stock still in front of the players.  It didn't matter.  All were brought to a standstill by the beauty they heard.  They knew it as beauty.  As something very special.
  • As the other musicians, cellists and strings, join in, the crowd grows larger, but you can also tell they grow even quieter, stiller.  Amazing!  Smiles begin to appear on their faces.  Latecomers run to the music, afraid they'll miss what they know is something special.
  • When the rest of the orchestra, the choirs, and the conductor appear, the symphony erupts and cascades over the people.  You can tell they are stirred by the beauty!  People waving fingers to the tune, singing words that they may never have known that they knew; little children bouncing and swaying; and still that little girl in the pink stands motionless, in rapt admiration.
  • In the final minute, the crowd (and me!) hang in suspense as the players gently slow down, and then burst once more into a final explosion of joy, which sweeps across the people like a wave, taking their breath away and washing them in love.  Wow!
I used to think that "Beauty was in the eye of the beholder" - meaning it was subjective, up to the individual.  I love short, sassy Italian blondes (which I do!).  But you may like tall, sultry Argentinian brunettes.  You say "to-may-to".  I say "tow-mah-to".  You're a Mac guy; I'm a PC guy.  Dog person.  Cat person.  

My sweet Italian blonde

All of which may be true.  But when it comes to what is truly beautiful in Life, I know now it's not a matter of taste, or of circumstance.  It's all a matter of attention.  

Beauty is found within us.  Beauty lives within us.  And its home is not in our minds or in our thoughts about it.  Beauty lives in our hearts. woven into us by our Creator, just as he neatly stitched it into the fiber of everything else on Earth.  

There it sits, just waiting to come to life.  A note to be struck, a whisper of a breath to gently stir it, the color of an autumn leaf to ignite it.  And then beauty is alive within us, and can spill out of us, to be shared with all.

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I want to remember this.  To try to be open to the beauty that is part of Life and surrounding me all the time. And to not get caught in my own little world of thoughts, "scurrying after nuts like a squirrel", as my wife said recently.

There's hope for the world if we can do that.

I know that would make even old Ludwig smile!