I was up in the Gifford Pinchot yesterday. I saw it. Every year it is different, and every year it is the same. Summer came, partied with wild abandon and fruited everywhere, and brought the animals and berries and trees and streams into a huge riot of color and noise and wildness. The Cascade Mountain Range in the Pacific Northwest is primal and huge and juicy and wet and scented with the heaviness of fir trees all summer long.
And then, quietly one night, the guests go away and in that silent breath of time, the celebration vanishes. Where there was noise and every color of green ever created, there is now the whisper of the coming of the snows, and the fire of red and yellow and gold flare up. The hillsides are covered with glowing vine maple and red huckleberry (and now the pots and vases in my house are holding that color in my corners and shelves). Some silent army of servants are beginning to move about, putting away the party. They are making the house ready. The family will pass long dark evenings here. The fir trees are reaching into themselves for power. They darken and deepen and talk to each other about the weight of water. Yesterday, I heard them.
And so, today, on a Saturday of duties and tidying and finishing and readying, some spirit that lives near my sternum has begun to untie the strings and open the boxes of winter. Fall is for getting ready for winter. Autumn is painted in the colors of preparation.
All Saints ... All Souls ... Thanksgiving.
Saint Nicholas ... Saint Lucy ... Nativity.
Saint Stephen ... Saint John ... Epiphany.
The candles are nested in their boxes and they wait for lighting. Fire and ice and water and flame. The party is over, and winter is coming. Again.