frantic and serene

frantic and serene -
Late-summer meadow rich
in breeze, bees, and seed

A haiku moment at the Connecticut Audubon Center, in Pomfret, CT, Sunday afternoon, September 19, 2021:

We're in the "quiet corner" of Connecticut, staring into the sun across a brilliantly lit landscape of rolling hills. The focal point lies far across the field where the open fields end and the forest picks up. There, the backlit trees form the only strong cool shadows at the intersection of two flanking and limey hills of mown grass and the corner of the mature and painterly late-summer meadow. Immediately in front, stand browning wildflower stalks topped with ripening seed-heads whose fingers still hold on, not quite ready to let go of the next generation. Behind the shadows in the distance, lies another ridge, easily seen from this high vantage point, blue-greyed a bit by the atmospherics of the day.

The colors contain the full-richness of late-summer. A band of red-orange grasses run across the length of the meadow, while here and there, swaths of goldenrod have opened, just in time for the bee's frantic-season. The more mature plants who have already given up the flowering phase, have a purple cast. Among the distant trees, you can make out a few who seem ahead of the pack; trying on some fall colors for size. . . but not too much.

The gentle breeze carries a coolness that foreshadows frostier times ahead. It is just strong enough to make the meadow sway, but not with enough sound to overcome the steady drone of crickets and grasshoppers. The occasional insect or bee zips breathlessly by on their busy patrols, urged on by cheerleading hawks from the distant sidelines. Songbirds perch at the very tip-top of seed stalks, surveying the scene . . . light as a feather, they sway.

Roxanne is on a tear with her painting. The watercolor dries fast in today's low humidity, and the light is already changing the scene. She's a bit more like the bees who seem purposeful and driven this time of year, while I am taking a more serene and measured approach with writing. Write a little . . . watch a little . . . meditate a little. Neither of us is right or wrong in this differing approach. We just flow with what the moment and the art seems to ask of us. The flow itself seems right for both accounts; neither swims against the current.

I'm struck by the fullness of life in this moment; the richness that it contains. Some meadow-life is in full-production partnership with the bees, while others have become almost fully dormant and restful. A few are not quite done with summer, but looking ahead to cooler temperatures and fiery colors; discerning, but not quite ready to commit.

For Roxanne and I, this place seems to mirror the moment of our lives. Both of us celebrated our sixty-second year this week (I get three days to bask in the glory of being a MUCH younger man until my own birthday makes us even!). As I think about it, we seem to be in late summer as well.

Parts of our lives carry the serenity of wisdom . . . a sort of maturity that is able to be more authentically present in the moment, and not worry so much as we one did about things past and things yet to be. Bits of us have gone more dormant; we just don't have the energy or the desire to do some of the things we once loved. But that's ok; those seeds are being released for others to nurture. And part of us is bee-frantic; we have things to do and places to see before the frost comes in hard.

It is a rich time of life and we feel the fullness of it; all its color and ways of being. Some things we have to let go, and there is grieving to be found there, and if we are honest; some relief. There is the serene presence of just flowing in the moments as they come and go. And there is still some frantic, breathless works to be done, sometimes with new gifts we didn't know we had. There is the joy of using those gifts in authentic ways and as the flow seems to whisper its need to us.

Painting by Roxanne Steed
Haiku and meditation by Ronald Steed
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