Autumnal Equinox | Fall Into Place

Fall, the portal to change, starts today.

Autumn is a bittersweet season for me. I love cooler nights, but the earlier and earlier sunsets are depressing.

The falling of leaves is a sign of death. All over my garden, plants are transitioning into their end of life, slowing their growth and dying. This is the time I rake and rake and rake.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I read that at the exact moment of the Autumnal Equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator, and an enormous “snake of sunlight” is said to slither down the stairs of the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza in Mexico. How cool would it be to actually visit there and experience this amazing event!

Also tonight “the moon is void of course.” I don’t know what that actually MEANS, but it sounds so snarky, contemptuous, and dismissive — even taunting — like OF COURSE the moon is void, how stupid can you be!

Or…it could be me simply being ultra sensitive to any slight or attack on my intelligence. Here’s what it really means…The void of course moon occurs when the moon makes its final major aspect with another planet before changing signs, which means the moon will now be in Libra.

To Autumn by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

      For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

   Steady thy laden head across a brook;

   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?

   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

   Among the river sallows, borne aloft

      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Mother Nature Requires Our Attention

If tonight’s Harvest Moon along with Mercury Retrograde isn’t enough energy, here in SoCal, the outer bands of Hurricane Kay — now Tropical Storm Kay — woke me up with high winds and spotty rain, just an amuse-bouche of what’s to come tonight and tomorrow.

My windchimes are going crazy. I think I better take them down before the fifty mile an hour winds cause them to crash and break.

It’s still really HOT; the high temp for today will be right around ninety degrees, but next week’s forecast looks to be back to normal and cooler.

There have been several small fires in the area, but the larger one, the Fairview Fire, located northeast in Hemet has burned more than 27,000 acres moving toward Temecula. Lots of people and animals have been evacuated.

As of 9:00 a.m. here’s a CalFire update:

#ForkFire 780 acres, 20 % contained
#RadfordFire 1,088 acres, 59% contained
#BarnesFire 2,943 acres, 0% contained
#MillFire 3,935 acres, 80% contained
#MountainFire 11,690 acres, 55% contained
#MosquitoFire 14,250 acres, 0% contained
#FairviewFire 27,463 acres, 5% contained

Emergency officials warn us that this incoming storm could cause dangerous flooding and countywide damage.

I’m paying attention to Mother Nature for sure, I feel like I should contribute some kind of offering to her to show respect for her power.

She’s NOT playing around, a bit different than the gentle and nurturing mother Emily Dickinson wrote about:

Mother Nature

Nature, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest, —
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon, —
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

My Beautifully Perfect Yellow Daisy

I didn’t intentionally plant this California native Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) — she’s a happy volunteer in the front garden, but I welcome her smiling face and bright yellow petals.

The Daisy follows soft the Sun

The Daisy follows soft the Sun—
And when his golden walk is done—
Sits shyly at his feet—
He—waking—finds the flower there—
Wherefore—Marauder—art thou here?
Because, Sir, love is sweet!

We are the Flower—Thou the Sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline—
We nearer steal to Thee!
Enamored of the parting West—
The peace—the flight—the Amethyst—
Night’s possibility!

Emily Dickinson

Daytime Moon

I love seeing the moon during the day even though it’s so very confusing.

Daytime Moon

In the morning
When the sun
Is shining down
On every one,
It’s very strange
To see the moon,
Large and like
A pale balloon,
Drifting over
Roof and tree
Without one star
For company…
~ Dorothy Aldis, American children’s author and poet (1896-1966).

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Is it true? Is there no word that rhymes with orange? Here’s what I found…

“Orange has almost no perfect rhymes. The only word in the 20-volume historical Oxford English Dictionary that rhymes with orange is sporange, a very rare alternative form of sporangium (a botanical term for a part of a fern or similar plant).” Lexicohttps://www.lexico.com

Anyway, here’s an orange zinnia.

I had planted a whole row but my garden bunnies LOVE zinnia flowers. I watched them eat every single one EXCEPT for this plant.

Photos taken at different times of the day; intense color versus sort of washed out by the sun.

Zinnias

Zinnias, stout and stiff,
Stand no nonsense: their colors
Stare, their leaves
Grow straight out, their petals
Jut like clipped cardboard,
Round, in neat flat rings.

Even cut and bunched,
Arranged to please us
In the house, in water, they
Will hardly wilt—I know
Someone like zinnias; I wish
I were like zinnias.

–Valerie Worth

Vernal Equinox/Spring is Here!

It began at 2:37 a.m. Pacific Time.

The sun crosses the celestial equator south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator” because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator.

If you were standing on the equator, the sun would pass directly overhead on its way north. 

Can you feel it?

How will you celebrate? We’re going to plant a lemon tree and some blueberries to add to the peach, plum, apple, pomegranate, grapefruit, and orange trees already in the ground.

Sadly, I had inadvertently killed my favorite lime tree and was disappointed to learn that no one in my area has any lime trees for sale. According to the nursery, the pandemic caused an explosion in home gardening and it’ll be quite some time before they’ll be back in stock, an interesting phenomenon directly related to Covid.

Those old poets sure knew how to describe the ethereal affirmations of an ephemeral season.

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

William Wordsworth

Where I Am: At a Loss for Words

When I can’t seem to locate my own words to express how I feel, I turn to Mary Oliver.
She speaks for me, to me, through me.

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.–Mary Oliver

Photo by Mohan Reddy Atalu on Pexels.com

To A Mockingbird

He sat for the longest time on a volunteer Brazilian peppertree. The original tree was removed because it’s an invasive species, but also resilient and obnoxious, an aggressive woody weed which displaces native vegetation and rapidly invades disturbed sites.

To A Mocking Bird

The name thou wearest does thee grievous wrong;
No mimic thou: that voice is thine alone.
The poets sing but strains of Shakespeare’s song;
The birds, but notes of thine imperial own.– Henry Jerome Stockard

#WordlessWednesday

…and so it begins

Here in SoCal, there are unusual excessive heat warnings for the coast; it could reach 105 degrees today. It was 87 degrees at 8:00 a.m. and now it’s 101 at 11:00 a.m. HOT!

The National Weather Service announced red flag warnings for high fire probability with humidity less than ten percent. The forecast also calls for areas of smoke. High heat records are being broken this weekend. Our desert temperatures could exceed 126 degrees. Crazy!

There’s ash on my car and deck from the fire in Alpine, fifty miles away in the east county. I tried to go for a walk at 7:15 and not only was it already too hot, but my breathing was compromised from the smoke so I had to turn back. As of right now, the (named) Valley fire is estimated to have burned 4,000 acres and is 0% contained. Ten structures have been destroyed.

And then I found this, the first one of the season. The first leaf fallen from the mulberry tree. Autumn in SoCal.

I see a few more yellow leaves up there; soon I’ll be raking them up and the branches will be barren.

Sometimes I hear the voice of my poetry professor and search for a poem to illustrate the bittersweet feelings of the changing season. This is a good one by Rossetti.

Autumn Song
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
By DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI

The Falling Leaves

In SoCal, we don’t really many trees that change color and lose their leaves, so that’s about one of the only things I miss about the east coast.

But we have year-round beach weather, so it’s not a huge disappointment!

Plus, I can look at this and not have to rake up the leaves, right?

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The Falling Leaves

Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.
Margaret Postgate-Cole (1893–1980)