Monday, October 1, 2012

Rounding the Seasons

A couple of days ago, I found myself longing for a specific poem about autumn.  I knew I had read it before, and that it was a well-known, oft-anthologized work.  I riffled through my memory, recalling that the poem was infused with a sense of drowsiness, the sharp smell of a cider press, the subtle-sweet scent of autumn's glorious decay.  Was it Yeats?  Something about gold, or another poem about the beloved "quiet one"?  Was it Dylan's young boy, singing in his chains by the sea?

But no, the poem I sought was Keats' "To Autumn."  "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" it begins, full of praise and exhortation.  There is a cider press, and a winnowing wind, and the long locks of autumn, golden in the sun.  The poem is infused with a honeyed sense of time, with languour, with, really, all those lovely -our words that signify leisure and slow time.   It sounds a bit like the autumn I am inhabiting right now--one I have not experienced in this specific setting for eleven years.  And oh, how worthy of an ode it is.

I smelled the first intimations weeks ago as I hiked into the Teton Range with my family on a very hot and sunny day.  The soft, sweet smell of the yellowing heart-shaped aspen leaves immediately conjured the first signs of an autumn I had completely forgotten.  I thought of all of the poets who have dedicated their work to each of the four seasons, and I listened to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"--the alternating frenzy and light strings of a year's passage.  In all the years of living elsewhere, autumn was always the season I had missed.  And how could I really say I had come home again until I experienced its return--right here?  I realize now that we can never truly love--or know--a place until we have experienced it in its roundness.  Every day is a gradation in color, every day adds a new, delicate tine to the comb of the chilling breeze.  Every day is a revelation.

This morning, I drove the curve of the highway, returning home towards town, and saw the crest of the Grand Teton peeking out over mellow, pastoral hills and fields, its crags just rinsed in snow.  My soundtrack for the drive--Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliette"--swelled with grandeur during my favorite portion of the score, which I will unashamedly admit is the ultra-romantic balcony love theme.  (So beautiful!)  Ah, yes, there loomed my beloved.  Sighted with full orchestra accompaniment.  There have been so many moments like this for me in the past month that startle me into feeling vibrantly alive and full of an intense, heart-pressing gratitude for being here at this moment in time.  For seeing this place that has been relegated into memory for eleven years through a newly-discovered season, and a newly-discovered me breathing within it.

(I realize all of these blogs from Jackson have ended on somewhat of a heart-swelling note of effusion so far, but what can I say?  Effusive seems to be the name of the game for me right now...  As Modest Mouse would say, Blame It On the Tetons.)



  1. gorgeous, as usual. the words and the photos. autumn is experiencing a delayed arrival here in seattle, but this just makes me long for crisp mornings, cool weather and hot drinks.

  2. You made me (on a very hot day in early October, in swimming pool weather that I love) long for autumn.

  3. Blame it on the Tetons. Yeah, I need a scapegoat now.
    No my dog won't bite you, though it had the right to.
    You oughta give her credit cuz she knows I would've let it happen.

    Blame it on the weekends. God I need a cola now.
    Oh we mumble loudly, wear our shame so proudly.
    Wore our blank expressions, trying to look interesting.
    Blame it all on me cuz God I need a cold one now.

    All them eager actors gladly taking credit
    for the lines created by the people tucked away from sight
    is just a window from the room we're bound to.
    If you find a way out, oh would you just let me know how?
    Would you just let me know how?

    Blame it on the web but the spider's your problem now.
    Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in.
    Great for solving problems, after it creates a problem.
    Blame it on the Tetons. God, I need a scapegoat now.

    Everyone's a building burning
    with no one to put the fire out.
    Standing at the window looking out,
    waiting for time to burn us down.
    Everyone's an ocean drowning
    with no one really to show how.
    They might get a little better air
    if they turned themselves into a cloud.

  4. Thanks for the nice comments, Scott and Jessica! And for the song lyrics, Anonymous...