::Literate Blather::
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The Rage of Autumn
In the fading light of the late afternoon, I paused among the crinkled, honey-colored maple leaves scattered on my driveway. Overhead, between the dark boughs of a large tree, the full moon – glistening like a silver fish – dominated the sky. The sight of it – its confidence – its defiance of the day – broke my stride.

There was a hint of ice in the air, enough so your lungs understood that winter was coming – sooner rather than later. The sky was a cloudless tapestry of blue, a rarity in New England during November when the sky usually looks like a dirty pie plate.

Autumn is the season for reflection. When time seems to slow down and the activities of summer are put away like tools in an old shed. It is a strange season – one of death and decay combined with brilliant colors and striking beauty. It is as if the trees collectively decide to give us a last gasp of merriment before falling dormant until the spring.

No other season makes you reflect so much on your own mortality. I found myself frozen to the driveway – gazing at the bold moon – thinking about my grandfather who died when I was a baby. His wedding ring now adorns my own ring finger and I gazed down on it as I’m apt to do when thinking about him.

That brought on thoughts of my own father and his battle with prostate cancer. A fight he has been winning; taken on with grim determination and his typical quiet stoicism which he inherited from my grandfather. Neither man was one for complaints – for whining. My father is a big, tough man, but tender to those he loves, especially to his grandchildren (whom he adores like a big old bear).

I realize that my father remains my safety net. If I fall, if I fail, even as I slide into middle age, he will be there to catch me. I can rely on his guidance, his sometimes gruff instructions on how I need to weatherproof the windows or how best to winterize the flower garden. He doesn’t advise, my father, he tells. At times, I feel my temper rise or the heat in my cheeks, but mostly I know he is right. This, I’ve come to understand, is how my father tells me he cares.

I like knowing that my father stands behind me – his big mitt of a hand on my shoulder. I like that he cares about the length of the grass on my lawn and knows the best way to clean out gutters.

I like that he has been strong enough to beat the cancer that tried to take him down. And that’s why I always think of my father when I read Dylan Thomas’s most famous poem; a poem that perfectly reflects a vibrant fall day when the moon decides to capture the day.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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