A Favorite Poem; “Kicking the Leaves”

This is a favorite poem. “Kicking the Leaves” by Donald Hall.  

Kicking the leaves, October, as we walk home together
from the game, in Ann Arbor,
on a day the color of soot, rain in the air;
I kick at the leaves of maples,
reds of seventy different shades, yellow
like old paper; and poplar leaves, fragile and pale;
and elm leaves, flags of a doomed race.
I kick at the leaves, making a sound I remember
as the leaves swirl upward from my boot,
and flutter; and I remember
Octobers walking to school in Connecticut,
wearing corduroy knickers that swished
with a sound like leaves; and a Sunday buying
a cup of cider at a roadside stand
on a dirt road in New Hampshire; and kicking the leaves,
autumn 1955 in Massachusetts, knowing
my father would die when the leaves were gone.
2
Each fall in New Hampshire, on the farm
where my mother grew up, a girl in the country,
my grandfather and grandmother
finished the autumn work, taking the last vegetables in
from the fields, canning, storing roots and apples
in the cellar under the kitchen. Then my grandfather
raked leaves against the house
as the final chore of autumn.
One November I drove up from college to see them.
We pulled big rakes, as we did when we hayed in summer, pulling the leaves against the granite foundations
around the house, on every side of the house,
and then, to keep them in place, we cut spruce boughs
and laid them across the leaves,
green on red, until the house
was tucked up, ready for snow
that would freeze the leaves in tight, like a stiff skirt.
Then we puffed through the shed door,
taking off boots and overcoats, slapping our hands,
and sat in the kitchen, rocking, and drank
black coffee my grandmother made,
three of us sitting together, silent, in gray November.
3
One Saturday when I was little, before the war,
my father came home at noon from his half day at the office
and wore his Bates sweater, black on red,
with the crossed hockey sticks on it, and raked beside me
in the back yard, and tumbled in the leaves with me,
laughing , and carried me, laughing, my hair full of leaves,
to the kitchen window
where my mother could see us, and smile, and motion
to set me down, afraid I would fall and be hurt.
4
Kicking the leaves today, as we walk home together
from the game, among the crowds of people
with their bright pennants, as many and bright as leaves,
my daughter’s hair is the red-yellow color
of birch leaves, and she is tall like a birch,
growing up, fifteen, growing older; and my son
flamboyant as maple, twenty,
visits from college, and walks ahead of us, his step
springing, impatient to travel
the woods of the earth. Now I watch them
from a pile of leaves beside this clapboard house
in Ann Arbor, across from the school
where they learned to read,
as their shapes grow small with distance, waving,
and I know that I
diminish, not them, as I go first
into the leaves, taking
the way they will follow, Octobers and years from now.
5
This year the poems came back, when the leaves fell.
Kicking the leaves, I heard the leaves tell stories,
remembering and therefore looking ahead, and building
the house of dying. I looked up into the maples
and found them, the vowels of bright desire.
I thought they had gone forever
while the bird sang I love you, I love you
and shook its black head
from side to side, and its red eye with no lid,
through years of winter, cold
as the taste of chickenwire, the music of cinderblock.
6
Kicking the leaves, I uncover the lids of graves.
My grandfather died at seventy-seven., in March
when the sap was running, and I remember my father
twenty years ago,
coughing himself to death at fifty-two in the house
in the suburbs. Oh how we flung
leaves in the air! How they tumbled and fluttered around us,
like slowly cascading water, when we walked together
in Hamden, before the war, when Johnson’s Pond
had not surrendered to houses, the two of us
hand in hand, and in the wet air the smell of leaves
burning:
in six years I will be fifty-two.
7
Now in fall, I leap and fall
to feel the leaves crush under my body, to feel my body
buoyant in the ocean of leaves, the night of them,
night heaving with death and leaves, rocking like the ocean.
Oh this delicious falling into the arms of leaves,
into the soft laps of leaves!
Face down, I swim into the leaves, feathery,
breathing the acrid odor of maple, swooping
in long glides to the bottom of October —
where the farm lies curled against the winter, and soup steams
its breath of onion and carrot
onto damp curtains and windows; and past the windows
I see the tall bare maple trunks and branches, the oak
with its few brown weathery remnant leaves,
and the spruce trees, holding their green.
Now I leap and fall, exultant, recovering
from death, on account of death, in accord with the dead,
the smell and taste of leaves again,
and the pleasure, the only long pleasure, of taking a place
in the story of leaves.

Pretty Photos

Just some recent photos from the last days of September and first day of October.

Leaves in our backyard.

Monarch Butterfly. I love this photo. And they are still visiting the garden!

Mittineague Park, West Springfield. Down the street from where we live.

Gooseberry Farms. Down the street from where we live.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Recent sunrise on a walk with Freddy.

Mittineague Park.

Zinnia. Beautiful, Bruce!

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Summer Is Over

Tonight is the last night of summer. You can see autumn coming today in the color of the lace hydrangea leaves.

Where did summer go?

I have a record of sorts; a list of the everyday routines.

I wake up when Freddy jumps out of bed. This happens between 5:00 and 5:30. Sometimes, but rarely 6:00 or 4:30. I give him a snack and then we wait for a glimmer of sunlight to appear in the eastern sky so we can safely go for a walk. This morning it was cold. Thirty one degrees. It was still dark and I carried a flashlight.

I had intentions to write every day but my will to write has withered and all I am left with are these lists. However, I do find solace in what G.K. Chesterton said: “The greatest poem is an inventory.”

Thus, I have written the greatest poem. An inventory of my everyday routines.

Here from a few days ago:

September 16
Up at 6:00
A walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast
Vacuuming house
Food Shopping at Big Y
Susan working on shutters in garage
Susan picking up things in living room
Susan cleaning the bathroom
Ham Salad Sandwich for me, Salmon salad for Susan
Susan cutting my hair
Hummingbird at zinnias
Wine outside with Susan before dinner
Grilled Petite Sirloin and Broccoli Ramen Salad for Dinner
A walk with Freddy
Seeing a Pileated Woodpecker
Early to bed

These lists of my everyday life are, in fact, my gratitude journal, my 1000 gifts. I am grateful. I am very grateful. I have a smart and loving wife in Susan. Two smart and happy children. Two happy grandchildren. A beautiful home. My gifts, from photography to cooking to finding and sharing beauty.

Susan and I have seen our grandchildren once since early March when we celebrated my birthday. The quarantine has kept us all apart (and I have gained The Quarantine Fifteen. If not, 20!). But we did see them to drop off a present for Matthew’s birthday a few weeks ago, keeping somewhat socially distant and no hugging.

Susan and I have always spent a lot of time together and more so now than ever. We miss our volunteer work at a local elementary school  and going out for dinner every so often. But I believe, if it is even possible, we grow even closer every day. God has certainly blessed us.

Now we are working together to paint our kitchen and re-wallpaper two walls.

(to be continued)

 

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

 

A Garden Needs Weeding

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
In my garden
I am
Weeding
I know not the names of the weeds
They surround my plants
I do know my back and leg muscles
Will ache the next day
I am on my knees
Two hours on my knees
I think this  is a form of prayer
Man On Knees Weeding
There is
The smell of basil
The smell of tomatoes
The smell of mint
Parsley
Thyme
Oregano
This all happened
On Saturday, late morning
Cloudy and breezy
I am filling a pail with weeds
My heart fills with Joy
I sing a new song
“You will be like a well-watered garden,
Like a spring whose waters never fail”
My hands are full of weeds
The garden grows more beautiful
This is why I worked
In the garden, to see
Myself weeding, letting go
Letting God direct me
This is a story about love
This is a story about growth
This is a story about beauty
Stay a bit longer
Listen
To wings of the butterfly flapping
The wings of the hummingbird whirling
Do you hear
Do you see
This all happened
On Saturday
On Sunday I rested

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.