There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.
“The Oven Bird,” by Robert FrostThis poem always reminds me of Thanksgiving--and vice versa--because for years, I thought "Oven Bird" was Frost's dark metaphor for a turkey. But as all English teachers learn eventually, sometimes a cigar is just a good smoke; there is actually a little bird called an oven bird (I'm from the West, and it wasn't until I moved to the East that I learned about oven birds, which are small birds named for the shape of their nests). Still, wrong as I was, the poem evokes late November for me and remains one of my favorites. So it seemed a good intro for my (early) Thanksgiving post and my (late) contribution to Dave's Garden Blogger Fall Color Project.
We're in the middle--really, past the middle, moving toward the end--of that other fall we name the fall. The sky is full--of rain, of wind, of leaves, of birds. The leaves are inches thick on the ground, and yet the trees are still full (lots of work ahead). The woods around the house shimmer in the lower autumn sun, which almost seems to catch them from the underside.
The gold of the poplars sets off the deep reds of viburnum and dogwood.
I've never seen an oven bird--we may not be forested enough for them anymore. But other migratory birds keep our autumn woods in constant motion.
They rest in the pines--from 40 feet below, it's hard to tell the cones from the birds.
And their "song" is deafening. Fall is busy--the trees and flowers may appear diminished, but the chaos of autumn reminds us that nature is in constant flux, and that falls leads inexorably to its opposite. Still, spring seems a long way off.
Salix and I are spending the holiday at the beach with friends. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.