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Red Willow Spirit: Turning, Returning

Yellowing Aspen Leaves Resized

Yellow leaves remain, but there are no blue skies today.

We have rain, cold and penetrating, the kind will be ice before nightfall and snow not long after that.

And here at Red Willow, autumn will resume its process of turning, returning, earth to earth and dust to dust.

It will be rather soggy dust initially, true; by tomorrow, almost all of the leaves will have become a carpet for the earth, sodden and slick and the soul of trickster mendacity. That is, it seems, how it always happens in this place: The trees shed half their leaves, which are raked and piled and hauled away, and then winter arrives on an icy wet wind to pluck the remainder from skeletal branches, layer them deep upon the earth, then wash them in the chill rains of fall. The weeping willows will hold most of theirs a bit longer, but soon, every branch will be bare as bone.

Aspen Turquoise

And bones they become, in the short-angled sunlight of late afternoon — tall spirits stripped of their colorful dress, reaching skyward as if in supplication, as though to beg the return of their robes for just a while longer.

And still, there are no blue skies today.

Tomorrow, perhaps, the white veil that now shrouds the peaks may clear, the leaden canopy above dissolve like dust in the face of Father Sun’s gaze. The skies may yet turn turquoise, the light may fall upon the land.

But the rest of this day will be rain up close and snow at some slight distance, until the snow overtakes the rain and supplants it, births its own storm of soft accumulated crystals. And when we awaken tomorrow, the land itself may look very different, lit by diamonds beneath a new-born sun, the shadows dancing across their brilliant mass in sharp relief.

Shadow On Snow Resized

If the snow does come, it will not stay for long — not this time. It is too early, but more than that, the world has warmed too much. The highs of late September are forecast just a few days hence, the mercury passing fifty again. The snow will fade to a narrow rime, freeze at night, then melt by day.

Reflection In Ice Resized

The water now in the pond, near enough to call it a small lake, will warm again, and soften, and let the decaying marsh grasses float free, unconstrained by ice or death alike.

The ice will return, soon enough, and the branches will transform by way of its chilly alchemy into gold of a different sort, long arms and slender fingers gilded by the coldest of water and the low-angled light.

Frozen Tears Resized

Outside the window now, our small world here is a veiled in neutral tones: brown earth, gray clouds, white snow like smoke between the two. The weather will, in a very real sense, kill off much of what at this moment yet lives.

And yet, the earth understands, far better than we who mistake sleep for death and death for void, that these are no kind of end. The earth all her closer-held spirits know that these are less temporary states of being than mere faces of the world’s turning.

Tomorrow, the skies will clear; the day after that, the mercury will rise. And here, our small world will be, as always, a simulacrum of the seasons, a cast in miniature of the cosmos: turning, returning, from decay to reclamation to rebirth.

~ Aji






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