Columbus, Ohio USA
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Rejoice in the Passage of Time
By Tom Thomson
September/October 2015 Issue

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Late October holds one moment when the year seems to balance between memories of the summer past and intimations of the winter to come. Such a moment sometimes arrives on the wings of a storm, after scud clouds have loosed their lashing rain and veered into the northwest, when leaves fly in flurries before the restless wind. Then, suddenly, an unfamiliar new chill pervades the warmer air and I become aware that the moment has come and that there is no turning back from the onward rushing season.

The excited cawing of a flock of crows reaches my ears, and I see their black shapes flapping helter-skelter over forgotten cornfields. A chickadee flits through an old apple tree, stopping long enough to hang upside down as it inspects a cocoon.

I walk on, happy and unencumbered, knowing that all these living things share with me the secret of the changing seasons.

If there is a Shakespearean irony to autumn, there is also the clean bright light and economical colors of a rare 17th-century Dutch painting. Landscapes are reduced to elements of simplicity and the horizon is drawn in one deft stroke of an artist’s brush.

Trees, divested of their leaves, are sharply etched against skies that can resolve from pewter gray to as clear and cheerful a blue as last summer’s chicory.

In deep woods, gnarled oaks are like ancient gurus who speak to me in a silent tongue and strew acorn amulets at my feet. Now, at last, I can fully see the victory of towering beech trees that have achieved freedom above the forest’s canopy.

The woodchuck readies himself for hibernation. During the winter his body temperature will drop to 37 degrees F. and his heart will slow to three or four beats a minute. Chipmunks, snug in their underground retreats, will spend their time napping and occasionally will wake to
nibble on hoarded munchies.

In the hill country, the wild and lovely ruffed grouse forages on wooded slopes and in sheltering thickets. When the snow falls and his world becomes muffled and white, he will seek refuge under the protective boughs of hemlocks and pines.

I count my blessings that I am content to study and enjoy all these wild creatures of nature and leave them in peace for others to enjoy. More than that, I share Albert Schweitzer’s reverence for life – and in so doing I preserve my own sanity.

The years of my life are but a handful of pennies and I hope that I may spend them in a kindly way. On my walks I feel that I am an integral part of the living Earth, that I am a sojourner with each plant, animal and bird. The hours spent in the field alone and with loved ones, the procession of the seasons, the privilege to have spent a short time on a wonderfully alive planet: All of these things I proclaim without hesitation.


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