The jig of the leaves

The end of October is wind and half-light and a carnival of leaves.  The gale roars in and fallen leaves come to life once more.   They gambol over the grass, leaping and swirling like spring lambs.  When the wind gusts, they are swept into a rowdy gang, sprinting across the ground.  Lone leaves float against the sky, bobbing and flickering as they twirl.  Those caught up in the leaf-mass try to rise too but can’t.  Instead, scores of grounded leaves wave from their mulching places.  Meanwhile the trees that released them creak and rustle, undulating on the side-lines of the park, as though cheering on the final jig of their offspring.

There are fewer leaves on the ground this autumn.  October’s dry weather has left many crumbling to dust.  There have been few of the mists and storms I would associate with the season.  The colours have been muted and brittle.  If anything, it has been a grey month.  I have noticed the brutish beauty of sow thistle and the delicate star-burst seed-heads of groundsel.  Indigo mornings studded by Orion and Pegasus.  Garish orange dawns splodged with dark grey clouds.  A grey squirrel tries twice to scale the surrounding wall in the park and twice falls off, before shimmying up the poplar to the tallest branches to re-assert his street cred.  Starlings gather on the same TV aerial in town each morning and the wings of the seagulls are gilded by the sunrise.

This is the close down of the year.  The hatches are battened down, the unfinished chores are as complete as they will ever be.  The hearth is swept and a fire lit to welcome the ancestors.  Halloween itself is still.  The wind has vanished.  There is not a breath of it, not a sway of branch or a drop of leaf.  Fallen leaves are wet after a rare rainfall in the night, making them particularly vibrant.  Only the birds are restless, a flock of songbirds chittering at the tips of the poplars, crows swooping and barking.  I think about the ending cycle, the disrobing of the landscape, and all the industry that will carry on but won’t be seen, as leaves are broken down and nature renews herself.

Halloween night is fluid.  The year is neither old nor new, but in-between.  So the dead might visit and we can meet those who have not yet been born.  A feast is prepared with a place set for the ancestors.  The previous year is released in a flash of flame and a curl of candle smoke, the new year welcomed with the shuffle of Tarot cards.  I have entered the world of the dark, that delicious time of dreaming.  Easel and paints are calling me.  New stories call from the darkness.  My box of dreams is ready, waiting to receive the seeds of the things that are soon to be born.

 

121 thoughts on “The jig of the leaves

  1. “I have entered the world of the dark, that delicious time of dreaming.”—Love this line! Fall definitely instills a beautiful sense of darkness, where (paradoxically) anything seems possible.

    Like

  2. So very well said, Andrea, as always. I am going to have to print this out and put it somewhere in my writing nook for inspiration: “I have entered the world of the dark, that delicious time of dreaming.” Love it. Pleasant November to you and yours! We had a tornado warning here today plus some heavy rain. That’s a bit odd for our November.

    Like

  3. The leaves certainly do jig in the wind – I have watched their dance in the garden today. At this time of year, I enjoy battening down the hatches and lighting the fire; seeking comfort and inspiration in the flickering flames.

    Like

  4. The closing down of the growing season is a major transition and you’ve expressed the feeling well, Andrea. Gathering in, an inner call to go dormant ourselves, or at least slow down, and the creative urge to do the quiet things. I’m looking forward to it.

    Like

  5. It’s hard to comment as eloquently as you wrote this post, Andrea. I’ve always enjoyed writing related to setting and nature. You excell at this art. I love the way you make the leaves so alive, as real people. I also enjoy your evocation of Halloween. And I want to stop by for a cookie or a slice of cake or pie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So gorgeous and haunting! We traveled for a couple of weeks in the Midwest and Texas visiting family, so I missed out on some of our fall here. By the time we got home from the second trip, most of the beautiful leaves were gone. 😦

    I was able to enjoy some of it, and it has been super fun hiking and trail running in the leaves. I always forget about the squirrels coming out this time of year, and they make me smile like a fool. Definitely the best time of year!

    Like

  7. It is as if I had become a part of the swirl of grey leaves, a part of the regeneration rigmarole of the elements, except the winter that has settled in the sward of my mind wouldn’t let go. Your writing is powerful.

    Like

  8. Deliciously written, Andrea! From your writing, I can sense the stillness and anticipation of magic in the making. And that walnut cake looks so inviting. 🙂

    Like

  9. Isn’t it interesting in this season of winding down and dying off, we can feel such stirrings of creativity? I look forward to the winter, by my fireside, with needle and thread . . .

    Like

  10. I guess, it was a long wait for you Andrea (as you had mentioned in a couple of posts earlier).
    And hope your ‘delicious time of dreaming’ is very cosy, warm and bright. 🙂
    All the best wishes coming your way.

    Like

  11. Lovely post, Andrea. I’m still waiting for autumn’s arrival. With the warm temperatures, the leaves are falling before they’ve turned and the Robin’s are frolicking in the bird bath as though it were spring. Enjoy your dream time!

    Like

  12. A few weeks ago, I saw a lone red beech lear, fly up and fall back. I have seen leaves do this a few times if there was a breeaze. This time, the beech kept repeating the swinging motion. It took closer observation to realize it was caught in a single spider web strand and was trapped, except when stirred by the wind.

    Like

  13. Ahh, the dreamy visuals. Love them. It was warm like summer almost all of October here, and now it’s cold like winter. Most of the leaves morphed from green directly to brown. I had to search for colorful foliage.

    Thank goodness for your winter muse. Enjoy.

    Like

  14. Andrea, I’ve really missed your writing. Plenty of motion and imagery packed into this short piece. I feel like I’ve been someplace beautiful, magical, and real. (totally taking credit for the activity even though my Fitbit tells me I haven’t left my blogging chair)

    Like

  15. Andrea, I feel as if this is your season. Well, they are ALL your seasons, but maybe fall in particular. And spring. Maybe because they are so transitional, furthering along the cycle of life. That early image of a carnival of leaves!!! What a poetic and imaginative way to put it. It reminds me of a line that Wallace Stevens “threw away” when describing the wind lifting a woman’s skirt. Forget the pervs today with iPhones up women’s skirts. I think this is an image from a more innocent time. I’ve never forgotten that line. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget a carnival of leaves!!!

    Like

  16. What a great title and so true of what happens when wind whips up the leaves. You make the end of fall and the beginning of winter sound so desirable but I struggle with the waning light. I guess I am a bear and would enjoy snoozing thru the winter.

    Like

  17. This post reminds me that I need to take photos of the beautiful New England foliage before the trees become bare. I enjoy capturing the change of seasons, yet sometimes the transition is so quick that I miss it.

    Like

  18. I love your description of the leaves. I have plane trees all round me and their leaves are huge. All the pavements are covered with them at the moment and yesterday a tube train derailed just nearby and I wondered if it was the leaves on the track scenario! One of the things that happens is that as they shed their leaves we get more light and sky which I like even if like today its very grey. One of the roads nearby is lined with cherry trees and their leaves go an incredible red which burns in the sun. I love this time of year.

    Like

  19. I do so enjoy coming on walks with you, enjoying all of nature around you. The dance of the leaves is just wonderful, and your writing is as much like being there as I could imagine. That Halloween spread looks mighty inviting, and I’m sure your natural receptivity made for a great night. Happy dreaming!

    Like

  20. Observant and readable as ever Andrea. I wonder am I the only one who still spells Hallowe’en with the apostrophe? Just stubbornness I guess. I don’t like the way the occasion has been cheapened so tackily, ousting Guy Fawkes almost entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Oh, open up those box of dreams, Andrea, and please, share them with us. Your words transport me to wonderful, fantastical places. Right now, the wind howls outside my writing window, and I’m enjoying a lit fire, a warm place to allow my seasonal fantasies to roam.

    Like

  22. I love the delicious time of dreaming. And your feast looks delicious too! Over here we have had a very colourful autumn which apparently is due to the warmth of this last summer. but as November begins snow has already fallen and then rain again!! Mother nature is teasing us all. Beautiful post as always Andrea!

    Like

  23. Ahh! I have read this post twice in recent days, for the sheer joy of doing so. What gorgeous prose-poetry (Proetry?) What an anthem to October 2017 in those parts. When I grow up, I’d like to write about nature as beautifully as you do, my friend. Write on.

    Like

I love comments, please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.