Autumn Equinox

Early autumn with Auden 2011We had our 8th annual Autumn Equinox gathering last night. Every year we invite six-ish friends or acquaintances to join us for supper, and then a time to share some gifts of the season with each other around a fire in the gazebo. I spent Friday preparing: making tomato sauce for the eggplant parmesan, roasting the vegetables and braising the greens which taste better after they’ve had a chance for all the flavors to mesh, putting up the lights and tiki torches and candles that lit our way to the gazebo.

I love preparing for this celebration nearly as much as the celebration itself.

The first year we were still building the house so I took a wood table with benches that I bought from a nice man in Portland (thank you, Craig’s List) down to the forest to set up our Autumn Equinox dinner. Todd and Karen came over–friends from when we’d lived in Oregon before. I remember making lasagna in my mother-in-law’s kitchen–I’m sure she helped me, because that’s the kind of person she is, and we were living with her and Bob besides, while we built our house. I had Todd and Karen and Mark all join me in reading poetry inspired by fall and we talked about the many years that had passed between us during our sojourn, as we call it, to the midwest where 13 years passed.

Every year since we’ve invited a small company of friends to join us in paying attention to the seasonal transition that sometimes seems to happen before our very eyes. Nearly always over our sharing of gifts–be they poetry, music, photographs, or reflections written down before hand or spoken in the moment–the conversation leans into life’s transitions and the challenge of turning well toward new chapters, and being willing to let go of passing ones. Being with such people inspires me to live well, to accept what is, to look expectantly to what may be.

Of course I read a Mary Oliver poem this year–from her newest collection, A Thousand Mornings.

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darknesslamp

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

 

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