Autumn Journal: October 25

Lately I’ve been thinking of some anchorholds in this crazy life of mine. The first thing that came to mind is not the most significant anchorhold, but it’s pretty hefty nonetheless:

Flyfishing is my anchorhold in a world gone mad. Flyfishing is an anchorhold when humankind departs from nature. Flyfishing is my anchorhold in a vast river of the earth. Flyfishing is an anchorhold in the lively waters of my home.

Poetry and writing help maintain an even keel. Friends and family, of course. Without them I’d be cut adrift in the solitude of stormy oceans.

Home, this place in the country where I’ve lived by choice for more than 30 years. Home, where now the autumn colors fade with each new burst of rain, as the specter of an oncoming winter looms behind each hill and far horizon.

The World Series in a time of numbing political campaign overkill. Giants/Tigers vs. Obama/Romney. Baseball! Rivertop Rambles, this blog, now one year old. A poem called “One Year,” from my first volume of poetry, Talking to the Owls (1984):

The rough-legged hawk/ returns down the ridges from/ the north. A single leaf cuts/ loosely through west wind/ as golden birches grapple/ blue sky. Everything/ hurries somewhere even/ as we stop & build this rest./ A woodpecker stalks the barn-wall./ Crowns of red pine hold October’s/ waning moon, the way myriad/ events contain the moment,/ life diminishing as it grows….

Walking through the woods out back I found some evidence of minor change in the trees. A large tree that was dead but standing when I first saw it 30 years ago had finally toppled over. Each time that I’d seen the rotted but stately form throughout those years I wondered when it would happen, when this home for ants and woodpeckers and red squirrels would topple to its final rest on the duff. Today I saw it– three sprawling, rotted logs that, before my life in this location, had been a thriving oxygen producer. No one else would’ve noticed this minor passing, just one little passage of life on a hill with a thousand autumn changes. In a season of excessive media noise, political campaigning, advertising lies and warfare, not to mention economic stresses, I imagined that the old tree fell inside its woodlot with a resounding krak!, a welcome noise, even though no human was around.

Rotted wood lying on my acreage near the house felt wet and clammy to the touch. Beyond it, in a brushy opening of ground, migrating birds flew up and down through goldenrod and autumn olive. The sparrows, robins and kinglets lent a quiet voice and motion to an anchorhold, a turning season.

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About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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2 Responses to Autumn Journal: October 25

  1. Croondog says:

    Greetings from London, Gator. Listening to Eno’s On Land as I read this installment was wonderful. Nice to see your house from a vantage point that I experienced on a walk with you once, in the early-ish ’80’s. Congratulations on the one year anniversary of your blog. I’ve enjoyed reading your words on a regular basis.

    Your pal,

    Dr. G

  2. Croondog,
    Thanks, as always! As you know, music is an important anchorhold for me, and “On Land” remains a favorite ambient album. Friendship and music thru the years, water on land, and at the bottom of the ocean! Safe travels…

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