Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn drear has crept up on us in this part of the world, bringing chilly foreshadows of winter and its associative symbols of dormancy, inactivity, and death. Poets have a long tradition of drawing their strongest tropes from natural phenomena, of course, and even the non-reading public is aware of pathetic fallacy - rain denoting sorrow, for example - whether or not it was taught in school. It just seems part of our nature to, well, turn to nature to explain how we feel.
Ecology, however (no matter what my blog title may suggest), differs from poetry in many respects. For one thing, it does not make value judgments on seasons, weather, or any other phenomena. Everything must die - otherwise there would not be life in the first place. Rain (and snow and sleet) must fall. In temperate zones, seasons are fairly sharply - sometimes very sharply - delineated. We cannot help but find our lives rise and fall in rhythm with them.
While snow and shorter days restrict growth, winter does not mean death. And even though is is hard to associate anything but "rebirth" with spring, in reality, life has been ongoing, neither dying nor coming back to life. (I sense religious imagery creeping in here - but leave that topic to another day perhaps.)
I find myself wandering into these realms this week, because health and mortality are very much on my mind. The timing of certain worrisome events is mere coincidence. Yet I cannot ignore it. The growing season is winding down. I am reminded of other lives winding down - loved ones. The connection is there if I choose to find it. And once I make that decision ("poetry or ecology," I suppose, is a little too facile) then I have to use it effectively.

1 comment:

  1. Autumn is considered drear only because it's the beginning of the academic year, and those with funded research are squirreled up with their classes and lectures, and the seasonal natural phenomena are grossly under-studied. If the academic year ended in September, the autumn would be the season of firing up the adaptations for over-wintering, which would be regarded as the high point of the year.