The season turned today here at the stately Mead manor in the exclusive borough of Queens. We have had a long and lush fall; the leaves turned yellow and gold in the award-winning gardens that stretch away from the windows of the blogging room, but up through this morning they clung to the branches. Autumn was benign; the days were shorter but still warm.Today that all began to change. It was still warm in the morning, but a brisk wind scattered the leaves from the trees as the day wore on. The rain turned cold; the branches began to look barren. Passers by buttoned up their coats and leaned into their umbrellas, struggling to hold them steady against the storm.We’ll be getting more wind and more rain tonight. What’s left of Hurricane Ida is heading our way; we’re expecting winds of up to forty miles an hour and heavy rain. When it’s done the trees will be bare, the colors of fall lost. We’ve gone from post-summer to pre-winter. Frost and sleet can’t be far away.The season is turning in other ways, too. My father’s older brother fell down the stairs in his apartment a few weeks ago. He’s out of intensive care and into rehab now; we don’t know what the future holds for him, but he is clearly moving into a new stage of his life. This afternoon as I sat with his son in the rehab facility, my uncle reminisced about a night in World War Two when he drove his father, a doctor, over the back roads from Florence, South Carolina to Hobcaw Barony, Bernard Baruch’s place on the South Carolina coast. Six military men stopped the car near the entrance; Dr. Mead disappeared into the main house as my uncle, a teenager, hung out with the soldiers outside. My grandfather came out some time later with his medical bag; he got into the car and my uncle drove him back to Florence. The patient he’d been called in to see was Franklin Roosevelt, then very close to his death; my grandfather never said anything about what had been wrong.My grandfather died around this time of year, in November of 1976. I was with him while his life slipped away; I miss him still.Autumn is my favorite season of the year, but it’s a haunted and a haunting time. And in honor of this turning point in the year, it’s time to post another Occasional Poem, this time from Shakespeare.
That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang:
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest:
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by:
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.