Here in the Sierra foothills of California, sometimes the Autumn season brings a feeling of melancholy to gardeners, faced with drooping faded flowers, drizzly rains and overcast skies. Larry Rettig, a member of Dave’s Garden website, pondered this feeling one day while out walking and a poem just came to him that expressed all the bittersweet moods of the changing season.
But a pale shadow of its
leaf askew and seed head heavy,
the garden hunkers down
to brace itself against the bluster of
cold and ice that is winter.
Was it not just yesterday that I
caressed the soft-petaled rose in passing?
Savored the sweet scent of honeysuckle
drifting over the sill?
Plucked a determined weed amidst the
I can still hear the cicada as it
drones its raspy song from a nearby oak, still
feel the heat of the sun-baked soil on
my bare feet, see
the firefly in my mind’s eye as it
performs for me its luminous dance
on the breezes of a soft summer night.
These are the treasures of summer
that shall sustain me, that I have harvested
against the coming chill, until
once more the brightening ray
brings news of earth’s awakening.
© Larry Rettig 2005
“The poem unfolded quite unexpectedly in my head one late fall day as I was walking along the banks of the Iowa River during my lunch break. I don’t know exactly why it came to me. I certainly wasn’t making a conscious effort to compose a poem, and my mood was anything but chipper!
By the time I got back to my desk, the poem was complete. I typed it into my computer, still mystified by this amazing experience. I noticed that my mood had mellowed considerably. Then I realized that the closing lines of the poem already reflected the onset of that mood change. The memories I had of our beautiful summer gardens had become treasures to sustain me rather than memories that made me sad. And the reminder that another growing season was on its way was exactly what I needed.”
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