“On a bare branch a crow is perched – autumn evening.” – Basho
It’s the first day that feels like fall – we woke to a tropical-like rainfall that fell in cool, misty sheets rendering the dark green forest in tones of grey. Outside there was a flurry of feathers as crow, gull, and wee sparrow raced for cover, the languorous days of summer becoming a distant memory.
There are four apples from this year’s harvest waiting in the crisper, to be eaten on a day that still feels like summer as we walk through that same forest restored to lush green. Summer and fall feel like two different worlds, seasons embracing light as well as darkness, reminding me of the journeys we take each day whether out in nature or in the man-made worlds of the cities and towns we live in, it’s the shifting shadows we encounter that reveal these differing worlds. At this time of year I prefer to spend as much time as possible in nature’s world, marvelling at the too many blades of grass still to count, the many falling leaves to keep track of and birds flying free through the air.
That luminous day of apple eating has not come to pass, the months of September and October unfolding in storms and lashing rain. Three seasons of summers past now known as fire season have resulted in quite a few trees having to be taken down, their root systems weakened by previous drought-like conditions. Whenever I hear the sound of chain saws outside our windows, I wonder what beautiful tree will be missing from our neighbourhood – several catalpa trees have gone and just recently, a large chestnut and a dying silver birch. Lately, after stormy weather, I’ve noticed tangled limbs and mossy branches lying on the grass often surrounded by yellow caution tape, ready to be dealt with by our city workers.
Among the crows and leaves are lovely glimpses of grace – dear Charlotte (a neighbour of my Mom’s) sitting on a bench facing a calm English Bay, my late father’s walker by her side (a timely gift given when I found out that her own walker had broken), the sweet calico cat who walks down our street, trotting behind her owners’ as they step out for coffee, claiming a spot underneath a hedge until they head back home and on a recent stormy day, small tornadoes of glowing leaves swirling amid gale force winds, an ancient dance heralding the arrival of winter. Crows and leaves, forever weaving a skein of magic that never fails to enchant…