Wednesday, October 6, 2021

October Song

Last night I ate dinner at 7:00 pm and lit some candles. This morning I awoke at 6:30 am and it was dark. After a week of wearing shorts and basking in the sun, it is overcast and the air is chilled. Fall has arrived. 


And it is welcome.


It will be an indoor morning, the growing list of things I couldn’t get to in the face of actually living my life, those things that are needed to wrap up one activity or prepare the next, have come due. 25 of them to be exact and my vow is to tick at least 20 off before calling it a day. After an hour and a half, I’ve accomplished three. But even busy work deserves some pleasure and with Bach playing on the stereo, the leaves of the mayten tree out my front window dancing to the Preludes and Fugues and some cellular memories of decades of Autumn running through my blood, that cozy feeling as the darkening days begin to wrap around me is pleasure enough. 


Fall has always held a special allure for me, some sweet melancholy as I trade off dancing with the Spring daffodils or frolicking in the Summer lake’s waves and turn a bit more inward. Start making soups for dinner, take the heavier shirts off the hangers and the jackets from the closets and spend some time with Chopin’s nocturnes, Miles Davis ballads or Incredible String Band songs—like their classic October Song. How often I would set off into Glen Helen next to Antioch College singing this song, the crunch of the Ohio fallen leaves accompanying my singing and a great gladness in my heart, an 18-year old with the world’s promise walking by my side. This was the Fall of 1969 and in spite of Vietnam, the assassinations of the year before, the Kent State shootings soon to come, I was wholly convinced that there was a better world a’comin’ and I was ready to be part of it, to help create it, to keep dreaming it. And in many ways, all of that was true and in many ways, all of that was not. 


But here I still am, doing what I can, determined to keep that spark of hope alive and glowing, still grow younger towards my innocence while older towards wisdom’s experience, still strolling along the path of timeless time. 


While checking off the next 21 items on my list. 


(Here’s the song. Better if you can listen to it with the music.)

I'll sing you this October song,
Oh, there is no song before it.
The words and tune are none of my own,
for my joys and sorrows bore it.


Beside the sea
The brambly briars, in the still of evening,
Birds fly out behind the sun,
and with them I'll be leaving.


The fallen leaves that jewel the ground,
They know the art of dying,
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts,
In the scarlet shadows lying.


When hunger calls my footsteps home,
The morning follows after,
I swim the seas within my mind,
And the pine-trees laugh green laughter.


I used to search for happiness,
And I used to follow pleasure,
But I found a door behind my mind,
And that's the greatest treasure.


For rulers like to lay down laws,
And rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains,
And God likes to forsake them.


I met a man whose name was Time,
And he said, "I must be going, "
But just how long ago that was,
I have no way of knowing.


Sometimes I want to murder time,
Sometimes when my heart's aching,
But mostly I just stroll along,
The path that he is taking.

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