Monday, September 14, 2015

September and the trees are restless

Certain pieces of song lyrics tend to stick in my head and return at predictable times of the year. Here's one of my favorites:

September and the trees are restless

Six simple words that capture the mood of an entire season. Words that carry weight in my heart. They speak to me of my home in the Midwest, of an entire landscape preparing to undergo the same dramatic change that it has endured for thousands, perhaps millions, of years.

These lyrics are from a song, El Matador, by Semisonic. They tell not only of the end of summer, but more profoundly, of the end of a season of youth for the singer.

Matador sweeps the veil
From the last young day of my life

I don't know if songwriters speak of protagonists in songs, but I'm an author of fiction, so I will. Like the protagonist of El Matador, I feel an important season of my life is drawing to a close. I am looking toward a moody sea with more than a touch of melancholy. I, too, wonder what the next wave might bring.

Seaside revelations
All those dreams and visions of mine
Washed up like a vacation
Lost as I wasted my time

2015 has not been an easy year. Many of my friends have suffered difficult personal losses. Their family members have passed away, some under tragic and unexpected circumstances. Or they've faced formidable challenges in their personal health. Or both. I've not been without my own losses in love, and as much as I'd like to downplay the impact of my trials in the face of what others are going through, who am I kidding in the end? The loss of love is also a kind of death.

Say goodbye to the weekend
And the last of the summertime sun
Driving off the end of a decade
So many things to be done

My regular Monday slot on HoF approached like a cloud on the horizon this week. A mere twenty-four hours ago, I couldn't think of a single thing to write about.

Then this morning I watched Stephen Colbert's interview with Joe Biden on the Late Show, where Biden spoke about the death of his son and how he was dealing with that loss. And I thought, "Maybe this is what I should talk about, too."

Maybe this is what we should all be talking about: the different manifestations of death, and how we cope with each one. After all, this is the hard nut at the core of life, isn't it? And the hard nut at the core of life is what gives rise to the beating heart of great fiction.

September and the trees are restless
Windchimes blow in the dark

Why are trees restless in September? Are they somehow aware that they are about to physically shed something that has been an essential and vibrant part of their being? Does it hurt to drop all those leaves that they have nurtured and fed and given color and meaning to during the long warm months of spring and summer?

And what about their silence in Winter? Is that their meditation, their prayer, their way of working through loss?

Trees are such intimate and yet distant companions. They are with us all the time, yet the essence of their experience remains a mystery. In responding to that mystery we find metaphor, and sometimes that metaphor makes us feel less alone.

Looking through my dark glasses
I see smiles on the faces of friends

Of course, the cryptic message of autumn is that spring will come again, though it's really hard to think about that when you're staring winter in the face. That's why we have friends and family, why we look to community: so there will always be someone next to us who can see the horizon when we can't. Community sustains us while we mourn, meditate, and pray. Friends and family help us remember the warm winds that will inevitably call us back to life.

September and the trees are restless

Yes, it's that time of year. And for many of us, that time of life. As you walk through your own autumn landscapes, where do you look to ease your restless heart? Friends? Family? Faith? Good books? B movies? Music? Art? Dance?

While you're thinking about your answer, here's the song from Semisonic that inspired this post:


Heroines of Fantasy said...

Mark here. Beautifully composed! Given what some of us have been experiencing this past year, quite compelling as well. On one level, I always have felt I have taken cues from trees. All things arboreal have always intrigued me. In terms of the fall, and all that might imply, I completely agree. There is a last lingering, as it were, but new directions wait, too.

Karin Gastreich said...

Thank you, Mark! I've sensed that connection in your poetry and your prose. What would this world be without trees?

Unknown said...

Wonderful post Karin. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on loss and the emotions and contemplations that brings up. My grandma has been on my mind a lot lately since she passed in November and this really resonated with me, so thank you :)

Karin Gastreich said...

Thank you, Del Sheree. It's hard to return to a season in which you lost someone you love. Many hugs to you.