How beautiful Carolina is in the autumn. Everywhere you look, color fills the landscape, all the more precious because it is so fleeting. And now, with the recent rains and high winds, my lawn is littered with the leaves which so recently graced the limbs of the trees in the yard, many of which are now standing nearly bare in preparation for the coming of winter.
In the brief week since these pictures were taken around my house, much of this color is gone, as the winds which cleared the clouds and gave us the incandescent Carolina-blue skies stripped these lovely ladies of their colorful garb, their bare bones now showing clearly and starkly.
What an autumn it has been, though. In spite of a paucity of rainfall through so much of the summer, Nature put on her annual show. Oh, there were fewer reds and oranges, though a maple tree at the end of my block put on a truly remarkable show, going from orange to red to glowing gold over a matter of weeks. Glorious, simply glorious. And walking was a pleasure, as I became a child again, kicking through the leaves, my mind flooded with recollections of the high rope and wood swing Dad built in our backyard, from which my sisters and I and the neighborhood kids would jump into piles of raked leaves.
Autumn makes me a bit nostalgic, as I recall the places I have called "home" and the many people who have populated them, many no long with me now...at least not in body. But their spirits remain strong, their presences very real, their voices occasionally resounding in my head and heart.
Now the holidays loom large. The day of Thanksgiving is next week, stores are filled with signs of Christmas, and sale circulars fill the morning paper each day, inviting me to shop and buy and spend... while all around me the natural world seems to be saying, "Simplify. Pare down to your essence. Let go of what is no longer needed. Trust in the growth that is taking place within and will bloom again." And so I plan for gift-giving which will take the form of helping those less fortunate, decorating which will not involve the destruction of a tree or the overuse of energy, determined to give the gift of myself and my time as often as I can, knowing that life is fleeting and only love is truly eternal...love given, love shared.