My Late-In-Life Love Affair With Seasons


A few weeks ago a friend from western New York sent me a packet of autumn leaves from her woods. They were still soft, just fallen, red and orange and yellow and chartreuse, bright with banked fires.

I wept.

Until I moved east from California to live with my sweetheart in an old farmhouse in Colden, New York, I had never lived in a place with four distinct seasons.

That October I fell into the madness of love, wandering in the woods, cramming my pockets with leaves that soon faded, staring at the intense blue of the sky. I wrote a love poem, “Fat Time.” And then, as the year turned, I wrote more love poems to other seasons, to a landscape of intoxicating sensory transformation.

The poems became my first book, a cycle of praise poems called Here Along Cazenovia Creek.

I had never known what the winter solstice meant until I lived along Cazenovia Creek. I had never burrowed deep, never wakened to utter white silence. I had never felt a leap of gratitude at the first fat bud, the first bulb pushing through gray ice. I had never swum through air heavy with the respiration of swollen leaves, never watched young deer play leapfrog in the long midsummer evenings.

Now I live in a place where there are no seasons. It is a bold, handsome palette of greens and tropical reds, the same all year round. It is beautiful, and there is no bitter cold, but it does not speak of transformation.

So I miss Colden, especially in the autumn and at times like this — remembering pumpkins and scarecrows, bowls of apples and Indian corn from local farms, a crepuscular early winter dusk, perhaps the first dusting of snow.

Here is a poem for Hallowe’en in Colden, New York, with love and gratitude:

All Saints Eve

At dawn, leaf-ammil flashes
morse for sun.

Old texts of tires melt
into the highway’s margins.

The syllables of maple branches lose
their thousand tongues.

Leaves molder into veins, ghost hands
signing: fire.

The last light bears language into darkness.

And here are links to two more poems from Here Along Cazenovia Creek: “Fat Time”  and “November by Cazenovia Creek.”

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  1. Thanks for this shiny new perspective on what, for me, is an old, very much missed love.

  2. wonderful, Ruth. I love how you transmute words like “words and syllables..” creating startling fresh metaphors. sheer poetic alchemy
    Western New York misses your vision.

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