Spirit in Place

Daylight arrives later and later as autumn progresses.  It is cold when I take my mug out to the garden before dawn and look up at the fragile scrap of waning moon dancing right over my head. One must wrap up warmly to go outside on chilly October mornings, and coffee does not stay hot for long.

There is frost on the grass in the garden and on the trees. There is a splendid inky darkness overhead at five o'clock, a few hours before the sun climbs over the horizon on a day in late autumn. Jupiter is clearly visible this month - it can be seen in the east just after nightfall, but it is still a radiant presence in the darkness before sunrise. Through my astronomical binoculars, four of the planet's many moons are strung like beads across its face.

This is the wondrous region of the winter stars. The color of the sky before first light this morning was reminiscent of a favorite fountain pen ink by Private Reserve. Called Tanzanite, the fluid is a shade of violet so deep and rich as to be almost indigo in its intensity. The same manufacturer makes a gorgeous color called Purple Mojo, and I am thinking of giving it a go. All I have to do is find my favorite old Waterman pen.

Local geese are still flying merrily back and forth between the river and stubble cornfields, but many of the flights of Canada geese passing overhead now are from the far north. They are traveling at altitudes so high that one can barely see them, and their farewell songs are little more than a plangent echo on the icy wind. I bless them each and wish them well, a safe journey south and then back here in springtime.

There is something about migrating geese that always makes me restless and a little melancholy. That is at least part of the reason why I am standing out here in the darkness while the rest of the village sleeps - that and the simple fact that I love these predawn hours and the faint glow on the horizon, harbinger of a brand new day. Some part of my crone self wishes she too could take wing in autumn and fly away on an adventure. Chances are I would be winging my way north if I could fly and not headed south like the geese. I am drawn like a magnet toward the shores of distant Lake Superior, to sweeping winds and untamed waters, weathered rocks, canyons and jack pine trees. Still a wild thing after all these years...

Flight is not in the cards this year for a number of reasons, so I am considering tinting my hair burgundy, acquiring a new pair of of purple Doc Martens, finding the Waterman and sketching something in a fetching shade of ultraviolet in the tattered art journal of the moment.

As the sun dances above the horizon and I turn to go back into the house, I remember that all our northern snows are touched with violet, and I smile - there is color everywhere in autumn and winter if one only has the wits and the eyes to see it. The finest migrations of all are those undertaken within, no airplane tickets required.

October 2010