Melancholy Gray

It’s late autumn, and it has been rainy gray for two days. When I drive the car out to the bus, it’s so beautiful it makes my heart hurt. It’s a poignant ache, and it gets me, like listening to Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Remember in Kindergarten, when your favorite color was one of the things that defined you? What kid ever picks brown? They know to stay away from it…it doesn’t exactly mean happy days. It’s rich and beautiful, especially as a skin color…. but not for flowers and rainbows.

So, for awhile I tried fighting this late autumn gray mood. I take Fish Oil pills, Dave says they make happy chemicals in the brain. And Mary says Vitamin D gives a little substitute sunny boost, so, I pop some of those too. I have a friend that takes her “team” for long runs through the woods, and it’s starting to grow on me. I don’t run fast, but I try not to fall down too much and it’s such a nifty trick to move through the woods without a canoe on my shoulders, I can go for long distances and I feel like a little jack rabbit. Love that, but the speediness is certainly an illusion. Oh boy is that an illusion.

But, I’ve given up the fight. I’m not unhappy, but I can’t be sunniness when the season is so tinged with melancholy. We’re just too connected to the outside here—. So, I’m leaning into the rain. It’s working for me. I sit quietly at the edge of the overlook at the end of my solo trail and watch the fog. The days are short, the light is diffused. But it is so very quiet and incredibly lovely.

Writer Parker Palmer says that the seasons are a metaphor for life, and–yep, that might fit. The brown dormancy of the plants-remind me of death and endings. He says, truth is revealed through the paradoxes. That the contrast paints the whole picture. On first glance, light and dark seem like opposites, but actually they define each other. Death defines life, diminishment defines beauty.

Does this mean the dreary days enhance and define the cheerful sunny ones? And so it is with my life? In the sunny summer when my days are full, there is no time to look up from my life. These late November days are slower, quieter, more contemplative, I spend more time catching up with Andy and the kids. And–this contrast helps me paint a complete picture?

Today I walked off the access road—now that the grasses are dead, it’s easy to check on the little pines that we planted last spring during Gunflint Green Up. Those little guys are liking the rain. Then I remembered how the plants use autumn to scatter seeds, and so they prepare for the seasons ahead.

The fleeting snow buntings that flock ahead of my car are like bird ghosts in the fog. I don’t know what they represent, but they play chicken with me, and I can’t swerve away or I’ll end up in the ditch… on the rare occasion when one is too slow, and it pops my windshield–I hate that. What would that mean Parker???

And the people in sunny-always Arizona, how do they fit in the contemplation? What would their metaphor be? If I ever meet Parker Palmer, I’m asking him.

In the meantime, I’m ready for snow now. Cheerful fluffy crisp blue days. It’s time for deep winter. I say, bring it on~!

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for your beautiful entry and photo. There is no day, short or long, sunny or grey, windy or calm that I don’t find the Gunflint Trail one of the most magical places on earth. I can so easily picture what you describe, thanks to your keen observations of the place I am drawn to like a siren song. On this Thanksgiving I am grateful for your words. Grateful for my fellow Green-Upers. Grateful for the wonderful community of folks who care so much about this place that nourishes our souls like no other.