This is the time of year when visitors of mature age drive up the shore with snowbirds darting in flocks along the highway fringes and curled golden leaves line its banks. It is a “Grande” time of year appreciated in a draught of autumn scented air, the distinctive rustle of fallen leaves, and the occasional slap of a smart breeze telling a colder cold is not far behind. A good many if not most our North Shore visitors are returnees not unlike the snowbird; flocked here they enjoy living the present while lingering a moment among recollections past. Being of same species and sharing a common language to aid misunderstanding of most things short of bold labels of EAT or GAS we who live here are (sometimes unpleasantly so) reminded of how damned lucky we are in the simple expression of awe on a visitor’s face having spent a few hours immersed in what is so familiar to us we at times all but disregard it except in casual note as we hurry on our business.

Truth, sad for some, is the business of being alive is not one we are easily able to appreciate on our own. It’s true. We each get immersed in the pearl or muck of our own worldly existence. The slow-built pearl may be beautiful of the ball of dung necessary for fertility, but neither in its solitary state has much vision. The pearl does not see its subtle colors nor does the dung know its rebirth in things yet to be. We see those things. The pearl needs us to know its beauty and we need it to help us see whether we are like it or like the messy but useful glob of dung. Of course, a pearl secure in its own self-made perfection is unlikely to be bothered by thoughts of lower things. In many instances people wall themselves off from dealing with the outside by being like pearls unto themselves, oblivious of the fact they are locked up tight living in an oyster never seeing light until someone or thing much less perfect frees from their shell and opens them to the day.

Would you be surprised I see these things all the time? I see it in visitors come north thinking to find a fantasy existence owning a property that will likely work them to exhaustion before they see the need of society. It’s seen as well in those of us here who are at war not so much with the intrusion of outsiders into our lands but with the sorry fact they are having fun on vacation while we are not. Interesting things the versions of these dilemmas. How many times have you heard another complain at length about not having time to do something when you know very well (seeing how in fact they waste time) the issue is effort or desire. Most do what they want. Time is a handy excuse.

The trees this time of year speak in more than colors because as each week adds to autumn we see the trees who are the true diehards hanging on for dear life to their precious leaves. They won’t let go. This is, I believe, literally so because leaves don’t so much “fall” from their trees as the “jump” to suicidal demise on the ground below. You can cut a branch in summer and the leaves will stick like nailed on. The cut branch can’t send the “jump” signal so the leaves stay. Other trees for whatever reasons insist on hanging on to the bitterest end when a rage of December ice will tear down leaf with limb. I wonder often what sort of tree I am. Am I the sort that splashes a portage trail in early August with a splash of golden hue or am I an old codger tree bound to fight it out in a frigid limb breaking tempest? Both will likely fit, depending on circumstance and mood. It need not be earth-shaking useful to wonder why some trees cling to their leaves and others let go so easily, but there is some lesson there that need not be transforming in itself to become a part of the transformation each of our human trees experiences as seasons change us and years build seedling to seed tree dispersing its “children” of whatever sort. Do you know what Alexander the Great (one of the few who lives up to such a name) said on the topic? He is reported to have said “The children of our dreams outlive those of our seed.”
Alexander, you see, knew how to dream as well as do. Great isn’t it?

What kind of vision, faith, or hope inspires a seed to sprout? Is it simply a matter of water, temperature, and soil or does that seed know (through the generations compacted in its being) that the conditions for a lifetime are out there beyond its sight as a dibble of new life with a tiny root-to-be anchoring a hopeful sprout above? It doesn’t surprise me to find a seed may be both smarter and more imaginative then me with its hell-bent disregard for anything but a future built of the best material available; a firm foundation in a successful past of chromosome on chromosome going back farther than I can see or count. The irony of being outsmarted by a seed is nothing new. Car radios and TVs do that to me all the time.

I wonder, does the seed sense struggle? Surely seeds are prepared for it, though silently unlike humans who wake to the fact and react noisily to it. Consider this close quote, “every day the hydra-head of humbug, cant, hypocrisy, false sentiment, and sham pathos rear their horrid shapes. Nothing but rage … will provide the strength which can prevail against them.” Alfred Douglas, one of England’s finest poets wrote that. Few remember him or his works, but he does remind that words of peace often adorn a speaker’s lips there lurks bloody war in the heart even of  one called poet.