Friday, 23 September 2016

Autumn begins: flutterings and dreamings

 On this blue skied morn, with the first flashes of colour on the tips of the trees and the garden full of birds, Paul (D.J., artist in residence and all around good guy) chose this piece of music to have our coffee by ..

.. and it seemed the birds came a little closer to the house for a listen.

Birds often (seem to) do that, when we're listening to Beethoven and Mozart especially, and other of the 'old masters'. For in days of old music wasn't so much created by the composers as plucked from the air. (Beethoven used to go for walks with a sketch pad and take note of what he heard and felt). Birds understand that, and if you live from the heart, you understand that too. That's why I like to offer up classical music, for the most part, here on the blog, to remind the heart-led readers that heart-led music stands the test of time. It is still there, hundreds of years later, still beloved.

I well remember the first time I heard this piece I offer today. I was in the kitchen of my big house in the city, a house always full of the noises of teenagers. It was morning, everyone had gone to school and the house was quiet. I put the radio on to CBC, which in those days had classical music only and began my morning chores...

The first notes went right through me. I sat right down at the table and listened. I didn't - I couldn't - move for the next 40 odd minutes .. now, some 15 or so years later I have heard it many times, even seen it performed (wow) and I know every note. I can play it through in my imagination whenever I wish. But still, to hear it on this blue skied morn with the first flashes of colour on the tops of the trees and the garden full of birds was to hear it anew.

So today as we drank our coffee and then began our bits and pieces we each found ourselves distracted, stationed with elbows on windowsills just looking and just listening. Our conversations went something like: "oh I love how he takes this snippet of melody here and works it into the next" answered with "look, that robin waiting for his turn at the birdbath is the same colour as the leaves are turning!" Nonsense, I suppose. Delightful, heart felt nonsense.

Which, if you'll pardon me saying so, is what life is all about, really.

Because looked at another way, that music exists in the air for humans and birds alike to .. harvest? .. is one of the glories of God; evidence of His design. That sensibility - the ability to sense - that we share with the birds (and likely most other creatures) is rigorously rejected by those folks who call themselves 'sensible', funnily enough. Yet they too will sigh just the same when their hearts are moved in the concert hall or on a sunny, bird song filled morning.

The place that music comes from is some place in-between, some place that isn't a place, really. Like dreaming, creativity seems to come from the brain, and often enough that is where it comes from, or in the case of dreams, sometimes it is messages from the body. But there are other times when we dream and we just 'know' that we have been some-where-else. Writers and painters and musicians know that there are times when they are not the creators but travellers into that some-where, duty bound to bring back and share what they have found or experienced.

Yesterday morning I got up at the same time as Paul (who is very much an early-bird) and had a cup of coffee, thinking myself ready for the day. Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and laughed - that was not the face of someone fully awake! I went back to bed and as the early morning commuters whizzed by the house on their way to the Big City (poor bastards, God bless them) and the school busses picked up the local kids (have a good day kids!) I drifted for a while. It wasn't until Paul came to get me an hour or so later that I even realized I had fallen asleep but then I remembered the dream. One of those dreams so full of colour and wonder and fun that it lingers in the memory for a very long time; I knew it was that I had been some-where-else. Whether that some-where is a place or a state of being is moot, I came back with a gift of .. lightness. Beginning-ness.

Autumn has always excited me, even more so than spring. I don't see death or decay, even as the plants wither they make seeds, even as the leaves fall they make soil. To me autumn is a time of promise. This year, as is so often the case, the garden had its own ideas of what it should grow that didn't really match mine; with delight I surrendered to its wisdom and with gratitude I gather the gifts it insisted on offering.

One plant in particular, one I haven't worked with before, really shone this year - literally, for its small but brilliant yellow flowers seem to sparkle where it grows in the shadow of the cedar hedge. Agrimony, an awkward name for a rather common plant, has brought great change to my life. It is not that agrimony itself will change yours (although who can say), it is that this particular colony of agrimony caught my attention in a particular way, with a hint of the some-place-else speaking through those bright little flowers and oh so friendly leaves. Researching it led me to a writer I hadn't read before, and ways of understanding plant medicine that were at one and the same time new to me and mysteriously familiar. The writer is Matthew Wood, and his piece on agrimony is here but what I gleaned from it goes deeper than what you will read.

Of course.

Sometimes that is how it is with the plants. It is not only that I learn something new from them or from studying the experience others have with them. It is also that they reveal deeper understandings that I already had, I just wasn't ripe enough to work with yet.

We not only grow as people, we ripen. I suppose that's why I like autumn, it reminds me of that aspect of being alive, that beyond the stage of fresh new growth, beyond the flamboyant flowering of summer, comes the time of ripening and setting seed for the next year so that over and over throughout our lives we have the chance to repeat the stages, the seasons.


  1. It all sounds so delightful! Such peace and comfort that we can receive from so many places if we bother to notice, to listen, to see. I am so glad you can and you do and you share it!

  2. Beautiful! I will look outside my window today with riper eyes.

  3. Yes, how sad the people can't hear because they don't know how to listen. The heart has ears of its own. Good music choice, Sister.