"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Monday, October 5, 2009

Red


I seem to see red everywhere. As summer fades into fall and the turning begins, the color that stands out most this year is red. Autumn is my favorite season, has always been, and I anticipate and revel in its unique palette with the same enthusiasm as a quilter in a fabric store. I know fall colors. This red is not one I've ever seen before.

Sumac, oak, vine maple. Burning bush, parrotia, blueberry. Dogwood, purple ash, sweet gum. All reliable painters of the season. All with their own particular combinations of traditional fall colors. Each sharing this year, at least for a moment or two of their transformation, this amazing red.

There is a translucent, liquid quality that twinkles amidst the fading greens and emerging yellows, reflecting the light of a sideways sun like rubies revealed in a long hidden chamber. Like the first perfect droplet of blood escaping from a cut, this red is life revealed. As striking as the crimson-tipped wing-feathers of the cedar waxwing, the color is burned into memory, heart, and soul.

It stirs something in me, this red. Every new day it shines out from a different place. Even as the rich golds and deep rusts and muted purples begin to emerge, even as other thicker reds warm the hillsides, even as gray shadows soften everything - this red continues to glimmer.

From within the timeless rhythm of the season when lush life is transformed to austere death, this red speaks of the unexpected and unknown. In fifty-seven autumns, I've come to believe I know all there is to know about the season. Until this September, five decades of those autumns were defined by the beginning of a school year, and all the anticipation and predictability and security they offered.

I travel a new road these days - planned, prepared and intentional. Except at every turn, what I thought might be, is not. The map I created with such care all those months ago doesn't match the landscape. Instead of free and easy, I feel uncomfortable and uncertain. I flip from delight, gratitude, and wonder to fear, anxiety, and despair - and back again - hundreds of times a day.

This new red seems a gift to light my way. I'm not lost. It's okay to leave the map on a stump, to set my plans in the grass by the side of the road, and to follow the brightness that beckons.

photo by Jeff Loomis from Flickr

13 comments:

Pam said...

Oh Deb, I could hug you and cry, because what you have written is so beautiful, and the very last section is exactly how I feel at this age and stage. It truly is a wonderful piece and I thank you for it and wish you well on your journey of discovery in this Fall season.xx

Kathryn Magendie said...

Gorgeous - so very beautiful - beginning with that stunning bird, onto your equally stunning words....

kario said...

Ooh, goosebumps! I love your connection with nature. It feels as though it is bringing me closer, too. Thank you for that, my friend.

Love.

Tabitha Bird said...

beautiful writing Deb. You are so blessed to have a true fall season with the change of colours and all. Where I live it is no cold enough for a true fall season. Most of our trees don't shed their leaves anyway. They are more tropical type trees that stay green year round. We are said to have two seasons, wet and dry. Our summer's are hot and long, but beautiful in their own way. thanks for sharing about your neck of the woods :)

Jessica said...

Lovely post Deb!

That's right. Set the map down and go for an adventure. :-)

Jerri said...

It's not only okay, it's what's required.

"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." Andri Gide

Dale said...

Lovely post. It makes me think of red in Chinese culture, the color of good fortune, the color of wealth, the color of happiness. I've always wondered how the color of blood plays with that.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

"I flip from delight, gratitude, and wonder to fear, anxiety, and despair - and back again - hundreds of times a day."

I get it.

love.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"his new red seems a gift to light my way. I'm not lost. It's okay to leave the map on a stump, to set my plans in the grass by the side of the road, and to follow the brightness that beckons."

Yes, why is that what we thought, isn't. This new life you've chosen is harder as it doesn't have the structured you are accustomed to. Sorty of like going off to school with no watching over you. It is fine to leave that map on a stump and explore. How will you know if the map is any good if you don't explore around it?

Elenka said...

Very nice post. Well said.

Genuine Italian Red Leather (G.I.R.L.) said...

lovely, lovely. Life is so much simplier when others define our path. I'd tell you to march full steam ahead, but then I'd sound like I knew what I was talking about....and I don't.

Love,
mary

Amber said...

Beautiful, beautiful writing. I love fall, too. I love the color and the change, and the feeling that it is time to snuggle down.

But I love what you say about life here.

:)

Janna Qualman said...

I saw the most beautiful just-turning red tree today. And I think I'll watch closely for more red, too. :)