alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Season of Falling

-
-

It is the season of falling.

Falling down. Falling apart. Falling in love. Falling into step. Falling by the side of the road. Falling out. There must be more falling idioms I'm not thinking of.

Pears are falling. Leaves, tomatoes and sunflowers too.



One of my treasures is a poem by James Dickey called “Falling.” This is the same James Dickey who wrote the 1970 novel Deliverance and also the screenplay for the culturally significant 1972 movie of the same name. At six pages in his book Poems, 1957-1967, the very last entry (I love that), the poem "Falling" is too long to post here. But please read it when you have a few minutes and if you are interested, here, because what Dickey managed in "Falling" is beyond what I can imagine having the skill and inspiration to do. He took a tragic prompt from a New York Times news story, of a stewardess who was sucked through the door of an airplane that suddenly opened in flight, and wrote a six-page poem describing her descent to earth. Six pages. On falling. I almost can't abide its frightening content, while at the same time coming back to its beauty and craft again and again.

. . . with the plane nowhere and her body taking by the throat

The undying cry of the void    falling    living     beginning to be something

That no one has ever been and lived through      screaming without enough air

Still neat    lipsticked    stockinged     girdled by regulation     her hat

Still on . . .

It's shocking, how a writer can connect us with an imagined experience. My friend Inge said over her Pinot Grigio this week that novels are about loss. She explained that while novels may be sad, or tragic, when we read them we find solace that we are not alone in our own losses and sorrows. I feel that poems are like this too. There are ways to find beauty in loss, in the shared experience of being human. Sometimes pages of a book are the friend we turn to, when we don’t want to explain anything, when we just want someone who understands, even someone fictional.

In spring, the natural world rises. Tiny, thin sprouts and foal legs sway in a breeze and in a few weeks become strong with fiber and bone. In autumn, part of Nature retreats. Even though trees and plants become still as they cycle into dormancy, life is ongoing, keeping on, in a needful rest. If I can, I always want to live where the seasons contrast in extremes. Maybe I see in that a comfort, that I too have wide variations in my self, differing needs in different seasons, be they for an hour, a day, or a year.

What falls, goes into the earth and becomes one with it, even nourishes and feeds it. Decay is as beautiful and life giving as tender green shoots. What we lose is still in us, and can nurture if we let it. Falling . . . living . . .


-
-

57 comments:

Char said...

i love fall...i do. it's the end of somethings but the birth of new things too and a time to celebrate accomplishments.

julie king said...

lovely post, ruth. for me, fall is about rising of spirits, soaring energy, renewed creativity and increased appetite. these are all good things in my life and my world.

take care.

Bonnie said...

living...falling...losing...releasing...surrendering...all schooling us for the final act ... dying...

I love the Fall and appreciate its clear reminder of the cycle of life ... each year I try to learn from the Fall, a graceful way to die.

Thank you for the link to this poem, I will definitely read it.

freefalling said...

Autumn is the best season for daydreaming.
And floating.
Do you remember this song?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBdH6SjBEX8

George said...

To paraphrase the opening lines of Yeat's poem, "The Second Coming," things are always falling apart; their centers cannot hold. It's entropy — the Second Law of Thermodynamics — and eventually it sends everything falling until the fallen are seen no more.

So what shall we do with this falling through time and space? Since resistance is futile, I think we should enjoy the ride — spin, turn, love, spread our wings, and enjoy the phantasmagoria of this ever-changing universe in which we live and breathe and have our ground of being.

Pauline said...

such a lovely post - with its feeling of fall in the falling

California Girl said...

Hi! I am responding to YOUR visuals and written word. Things really are falling fast. My MIL is running about saying how the flowers have "gone by". If she says it one more time I'm gonna make her go "bye". he he. But I digress...here's my contribution:

Long hot summer,
Short brilliant flowers,
Long slow death.

Elisabeth said...

A beautiful post, Ruth, thanks. I agree that novels are primarily to do with loss and I find this notion of comfort.

So much of our creativity deals with our attempts to deal with loss. And Dickey's poem is magnificent for this very reason. It sears our imaginations and certainly imagination is one way of helping us to deal with loss, too.

Margaret Bednar said...

My almost three year old son was standing underneath the trees this past weekend and he noticed the leaves falling about him. He looked up and laughed and laughed. I couldn't stop smiling at him and I actually almost cried at his simple joy. I didn't have a camera but maybe I will try to capture it with a drawing. Not sure if I can do it from memory. But I know I will never forget it.

Patricia said...

Ruth,
the light on the plant forms in your photographs is ethereal. Thanks for this segue into a new season.

Oliag said...

I could never live without the change in seasons either...even the subtle changes such as those at the end of August and the beginning of September are iportant to me...

...right now it is the barometer that is falling...we are supposed to escape with just a tropical storm but everyone is tense...

Love this post Ruth...and I will try to embrace George's attitude of enjoying the ride:)

ds said...

Beautiful. I think the sunflowers are the saddest I have ever seen. We do need all of the seasons--each has its beauty, each its despair...
To see the craft in Nature, and the craft in poetry, well, that is something truly special.
Thank you.

Lorenzo said...

Some of your reflections here echo strongly in me. One, in particular, was the need for extreme seasons. I think of this often and miss the clearly differentiated four seasons I grew up with in the States. Where I live here in south-central Spain, Fall passes by a bit unnoticed, although not inside me (your post today seems to whisper to that spot inside). Yesterday I booked my flight back to New York for October. First time in over three years. And the first time I'll see the Fall colors since... gulp, I can't remember when.

The photos are beautiful. The first one seems to tell a story — the sunflowers that have overreached themselves and begin to sag as a loved one rolls away...

Ruth said...

Char, I agree. My friend at university and I decided that the start of fall semester is more like our new year's than January 1.

Ruth said...

Julie, I know what you mean. I get more excited heading into the cooler months than heading into summer, even though I love summer's exuberance. But I look forward to what my friend Gayla calls "candle time." There is something strong in our culture about going back to school, that never seems to quite fade away, even as I get older, and my spirits soar too.

Ruth said...

Thank you for your comment, Bonnie, which gracefully and with ease, talks about dying. This culture has a pretty warped and terrible view of dying, keeping it at bay, making us afraid of it, denying aging. We need more voices, like yours (and mine, I think), declaring the autumn and winter seasons of life admirable. And we need to speak about dying with grace. Thank you so much for helping me think about that this morning.

Ruth said...

Letty, I have seen you floating, and I think it was autumn, your autumn. You were twirling I think. (This was in my mind.)

I do not remember the song, but I put it on my sidebar, because it's lovely. We watched Twin Peaks back then, a very eerie show, which I'm trying not to think about when I listen to the song. :)

Susan said...

Thank you, dear Ruthie, for easing us into fall with your brilliant words. I have no doubts that you could write a six-page poem, if you so desired. Your prose is just poetry in paragraph form.

I think I will appreciate fall a little more this year after enduring this hot, hot summer. Here in Ohio, the sweet corn season was early and will be short, with some farmers reporting that they will be done by next Tuesday. Don't know what that's a sign of, but surely a portent of some change afoot.

Come Monday I suppose I will have to change from my white purse to a more suitable fall one...wouldn't want to offend the matrons of etiquette...hehehe.

Ruth said...

No resistance here, George. I'm enjoying the descent too. Funny how so much of the time it feels like ascent though. :)

Ruth said...

California Girl, you provided a nice long chuckle in my sober autumn reverie this morning, both here about your MIL, and at your place with that hottie pin-up lady on the treadmill. I like your lines of verse, but I hope the ending doesn't have anything to do with your MIL saying "bye"!

:D

Marcie said...

Love the concept of falling and rising again. A perfect metaphor for the change in seasons. And - the poem about the stewardess falling - is spell-binding. Thank-you for this!

margie said...

well on that note, i fell last week. smashing my whole old body right onto the pavement. stone cold sober, walking the dog. i don't like jumping either. it's like falling on purpose. have a great weekend.

Ruth said...

Elisabeth, thank you, and thanks for taking this a step further. Creativity is born out of a tension, a yin and yang. My poetry teacher always says that some obstacle in a poet's life is good for writing. When our economy tanked two years ago, I felt devastated for our poor university department, where things might not ever go back to the way they were. Then within 24 hours, students reignited me with hope, and I asked them, nay begged them, to write about the hard times. It is in art that humans keep finding inspired hope.

willow said...

Ah, yes, "girdled by regulation". I tough on that subject a bit in my piece today.

It is sometimes hard to find the loveliness in loss, but it is, indeed all part of the circle of life, the textures that create beauty in our world.

willow said...

....that would be "touch"...but you knew that!

Ruth said...

Margaret, even if you didn't have your camera, and even if you don't ever draw this (which I hope you do, if it flows from you), the moment is embedded in your heart and mind's eye, and in mine. I would have wept too.

Ruth said...

Patricia, I'm always looking for that ethereal light, and it feels like a goldmine when the camera gets what is offered. I guess it's almost the most important thing in photography, well one of them. Thank you for noticing, and for the gift of your comment.

Ruth said...

Oliag, it is a subtle change, from August to September, but I notice it too, like a switch into a light more amber. Oh I hope you have not incurred any damage from the storm raging down the coast. I think it's at the Carolinas now. You have safer things to ride than a hurricane, I think. :)

Ruth said...

DS, the demise of the sunflowers this year is early for this patch, because they grew soooo tall. You can see that some of them are still vibrant and not ready to lose their petals, but they just couldn't stand up straight any longer.

Thank you, my special friend.

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, I can imagine how you might look forward to autumn in New York, after so long away, and loving the four seasons as you do. When we lived in Pasadena, I missed the contrast of seasonal change so much. I've heard about upstate NY, though I haven't driven there in autumn. My brother Bennett used to drive seniors through New England on tour buses. Maybe I'll ride on that bus one of these days (a looong ways from now, heh).

Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed the photographs. The top one is actually my own car. I was leaving for work yesterday, and my Aveo nudged the drooping sunflowers as I drove under. It was such a strange sensation, that I parked the car and got out for a photo. So, that's what I look like if you ever drive up behind me. :)

Ruth said...

Susie, you are very kind. I'm afraid I am too lazy to write a six page poem, or maybe a six page anything, although some of my posts get that long. :)

Last summer it was so cool, and we never really got that full on blaze of it, at least here, a little north of you. I hope you enjoy every minute of autumn while you have it, before the onset of your least favorite season. Maybe I can share my mind of winter with you this year, you think?

Yes, don't you dare let me see you with a white purse, or in linen, or without a girdle. ;-)

Helena said...

I love that connection you made with autumn and falling. Even the temperature is falling and I'm really happy about that.

I also like the agreements below. But only a saint could live by all of them. It's worth a try though.

dutchbaby said...

So complete is Dickey's description that the empathy he felt for that flight attendant, and during those moments of falling, must have been like an altered state for him.

Your photos wonderful as always - my favs: the three middle sunflower ones, together as a series. I can see them hanging in a column on a narrow wall, framed in the bare wood of those fence posts.

Terresa said...

The hanging sunflower heads are beautiful, aren't they? There's something about decay/wilt/the fall that is indescribably intriguing to me.

Your words and pictures, as always, resonated with me, especially the stewardess's fall (my mom was a TWA stewardess back in the 1960's).

And this:
"What we lose is still in us, and can nurture if we let it. Falling . . . living . . ."

Have a beautiful weekend, Ruth. And Happy Labor Day!!

deb said...

ah... I feel this too.
I will follow your links of course.

I do love seasons . I do love how I see glory in the unfurling , the dance, the fall, the dormancy.

stunning post as always Ruth. thank you.

Sidney said...

This is beautifully said... never liked autumn... but you are right.

J.G. said...

There's always the Fall from the Garden of Eden, to start the diminishment process and add one more item to your list. So hard to embrace the seasons of loss (though the colors are lovely).

Ruth said...

Letty!!! I am such a dim bulb! :D

FREEFALLING is the best kind of falling, and such a good song too. How can I be so unconscious? Huh, tell me? Where was my wormhole, and what good was it? I suddenly woke up, at 3AM, and there it was. Jeesh, we need to do some housekeeping . . .

:D

Ruth said...

Thank you, Marcie. I worried a bit about this poem being to morose for a post, but I find it spell-binding too.

Ruth said...

Oh, Margie! How awful! I hope you were not injured, but I can't imagine how that would be possible to be completely free of injury after a fall like that. I hope you enjoy a lovely fall, and not another one like that, but only autumn. And I hope your boy will be just fine this weekend, safe from the hurricane's shorefall.

Shari Sunday said...

Something in me longs for fall especially and the change of seasons in general. Your pictures and thoughts are as gentle and bittersweet as a rainy day. I swear the picture with the little leaves falling seems to move. Have a happy day. I especially envy the cool fresh air you must have there today.

Ruth said...

willow, yes, I did know what you meant, and I find it very interesting that we both had girdles in our posts.

As for losses, joys are more joyful when sorrows are also part of life. I have heard (from where, an angel?) that angels envy human life because of the highs and lows, rather than their monotony of emotionlessness.

Ruth said...

Helena, yes, apparently it was a record-setting summer world wide for temperature, well June was anyway. Even Finland, wow.

I see the five agreements as daily reminders, and yes I don't reach them, but sometimes I reach one, or feel that I have. I think they're like the ten commandments, that perhaps were not so much about right and wrong as they were about living in a certain way that would alleviate strife -- in oneself, and with others.

Pat said...

Fall is the most beautiful time of the year, in my opinion. It shows us that the earth is changing, preparing for winter.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, thank you on both counts, so very much. I had not considered that, that Dickey must have entered this experience that way, to write it as he did. I think you must be right.

And I do like the idea of a triptych of the three sunflower images in a vertical row, in a fence-wood frame. Not a bad idea for someone for Christmas. :)

You have an artist's sensibilities, always.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Terresa. I confess I enjoy plant decay more than animal, but I am still intrigued by the animal decay. Once I posted photos of deer in various stages of decay (with a little warning), here. I was terribly fascinated by the state of the deer in the final photo there, and I would love to write a poem about it, all hooves and ribs.

Arti said...

A beautiful post Ruth. When I was in Provence, just a few days ago, the yellow leaves of sunflowers have all withered, and have turned brown. They leave them in the fields to press them later for oil. No lavenders were in sight either, apparently July is the best time to see them, and in higher areas on the mountains. Anyway, fall is my favourite season of the year. I like the colours and the crisp, dry air.

I've also appreciated what Inge said, reminds me of a quote from the movie 'Shadowlands', about C.S. Lewis and his love relationship with Joy who died of cancer just four years into their marriage. "We read to know we are not alone". Thanks for the reminder.

Ruth said...

Deb, it is a beautiful dance, as you showed in your vibrant "endurance" post. Thank you, always, for your words of beauty and encouragement, here and at your place.

Ruth said...

Sidney, there are aspects of autumn that are sad, leaving behind the warmth and growth of summer. Thank you for stopping by.

Ruth said...

J.G., good one to add. I guess, bottom line, I feel fortunate that I am surrounded by loved ones, who support me through my losses.

Ruth said...

Shari, what pretty words, gentle and bittersweet as a rainy day. Thank you, my friend. I hope you will have cooler weather soon. Yes, we are having chilly nights, and today is quite blustery. I am not a hot weather person, and I'm afraid I would not do well in Florida. I hope you are having a good weekend.

Ruth said...

Pauline, thank you so much. I'm sorry I missed responding to you in order, but I did not miss your kind visit and comment.

Ruth said...

Hi, Pat. I used to love fall the most. Surprisingly, it might now be a toss-up between autumn and winter. :|

Ruth said...

Arti, welcome back from your travels to England and France! I have not yet seen sunflowers or lavender in France either. It surprises me a little that they are already past, since ours are still blooming, even if they are falling a bit, and the lavender is still blooming too. I love Paris in October, the way the light warms the city, looking down from Montmartre.

I remember Surprised by Joy, the book, and then the movie with Sir Anthony Hopkins. Was that the title of the film? It was a big story in our church circle, and such an interesting story of their relationship, how he devoted himself to her. There aren't too many who have explored the depths of heartfelt ideas as C. S. Lewis has.

Ginnie said...

I read Margie's comment and winced! I have fallen off my bike here in The Netherlands once at a near standstill, bumping into the curb in our living complex before parking it in the garage. I watching the falling part in slow motion, knowing I could do nothing about it before landing on the pavement. Then last week the same thing happened all over again, but at a much faster speed. I bumped into the curb and it was déjà vu all over again. But this time, I ran into the bushes, which saved me. :D Both times, however, my body screamed out to me, "I'm too old for this!" Are we always too old for falling or is it really that part of living that makes rebirth possible, as many times as we need it?

Gwen Buchanan said...

This touches my Heart, Ruth... and makes me feel quiet.

Jeanie said...

As much as I love summer and loathe winter, I would hate to be in a one-season (or even two-or-three-season) world. I love the change in the earth, the food, the colors and in me. As I was north this past weekend, I noticed several trees in FULL red. Early bloomers, I suppose. They were lovely and I thought, "Well, if I have to say goodbye to warm, at least I can say hello to lovely!"