I ended the previous post with a gratuitous dig against the color yellow. What did it ever do to me, anyway? It wasn't that I was in a "bad mood", really. I'm not wired to get bad-moody; when I'm bluish, I tend just to contract and withdraw. But I could feel myself slipping down a scary slope, and after writing, revising and erasing a paragraph or two of mawkish blather, I just had to jump off that bobsled.
I wanted to write about what it's been like this fall. How, at the tree farm, I kept turning around, and around, and around, to take in the vistas, barely remembering to breathe. How I was imagining the surrounding forested hills sitting quietly in their spring and summer green, then stepping forward in their fall bronze, gold and copper. How I stopped myself from even trying to snap a picture, because I knew that the photographic image would have been so far removed from what I was experiencing that it would have been just this side of blasphemous. (I think I finally understand that whole "stealing your soul" thing.) How, a few weeks ago, I got to see a giant "tree" at the Arboretum which, up close, turned out to be three closely spaced maples (the tallest in the middle), with the three sets of foliage each maturing at a different pace to give the effect of a clown's psychedelic wig. How, walking to the elementary school these mornings, the sidewalk is thronged with Norway maples on the right, which have taken weeks to turn color in a languid slo-mo, so that you see green, and yellow, and orange, all on the same tree, all at the same time. (Norway maple, did I say I hated you? I take it all back.)...and on the left in the school's yards, a pageant of a maple in maroon, a birch in lacy lime green, a crabapple denuded of all but its ruby jewels, more of the fabulous multicolored Norway maples (strike me dumb; I've used "fabulous" and "Norway maple" in the same sentence), and an Amur maple in fluorescent tangerine and yellow.
I want to hoard these memories like treasure, knowing they can't be collected in that way. Although I've gotten better at setting a dry-eyed stone-faced gaze at keepsakes that pass briefly through experience before falling away into fallible and evaporating memory, that doesn't mean that I've gotten any better at letting go. I know that that's the most important lesson of the garden, for Henry Mitchell tells me so, but all the while I know exactly how Elizabeth Lawrence feels when she writes here, of miniature daffodils:
Of all the little bulbs, the flowers of these miniatures are the most endearingly diminutive, the most daintily perfect in proportion, and the most delicate in color. When they are in bloom I feel as if I could not stop looking at them for a moment, and when they are gone I am almost ashamed of the sharpness of my regret.Elizabeth Lawrence, The Little Bulbs: A Tale of Two Gardens. (Criterion Books, Inc., 1957; reissue ISBN 0822307391.)