A hammering Nor’easter brings out autumn’s uncanny, tenacious survivors. You cannot miss them.
They spill through scrolled iron grates and poke through white picket fences, onto narrow sidewalks. Giant bleached sunflower heads sink to the ground, bending their stalks into improbable horseshoes, gateways to flower beds populated with autumn’s honeyed hues: amber and pumpkin, magenta and violet, mottled mossy green and every shade of brown.
At this time of year, flamboyant survivors are outliers: the ground is littered with the fallen.
After centuries of reaching upwards, branches have thwacked down after one final battering by high winds. Fruit has detached and collapsed. A blizzard of leaves still falls, spinning and fluttering like the missing butterflies which descended en masse only weeks ago.
Where leaves have steeped in rain they begin to bleed and dissolve into one another, like paper mache. Plate-sized mushrooms–sepia tortoises with tucked heads and spongy gold underbellies–sprout and colonize drenched city lawns.
From treetops to ground, from ground to underneath. A season of descent.
Poet Mary Oliver captured these “Days of Increasing Darkness“:
Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world
So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.