It’s one of those goals that I intermittently find myself slacking off on. Like working out, eating only clean foods, keeping my closet organized, and making my bed, getting out into nature on a regular basis is a resolution I invariably fail to keep.
Of course, it’s easy to find excuses — especially in Tennessee, where the weather is either hotter than the oven I forgot to turn off after making a pizza, more humid than my poorly-ventilated bathroom after a long shower, colder than the walk-in freezer you dream about getting trapped in, or absolutely, positively perfect… on a day that I work. And yet, every time I correct the course and reenter nature’s embrace (or clean my closet/ make my bed/continue eating clean foods/working out), I find myself joyous by the deep-seated joy that takes root.
So today, on a day where I found myself inexplicably on top of my to-list, I found myself headed to Edwin Warner Park — an enormous state park a scant 25 minutes from my town home — filled with the desire to enjoy this brief period of beautiful Fall foliage before we enter the bleakness of winter. While it was clear that I missed the best of the color change, I was not disappointed in the leaves that remained clinging onto the limbs in a ill-fated attempt to show off their brilliance for the remainder of the season.Step by step into this decaying wonderland, I found myself revisiting the constant paradox we all hold dear during this season: the thrill of life at the height of its beauty, and the despair that we are watching, in real time, the world get stripped of the very beauty we are beholding as winter comes. This was never truly an issue that I faced with dread as a child – while some leaves changed in Washington, the majority of the area would remain varying colors of brown and green in a woven reminder that spring would come again.
Perhaps then, it’s apt that as I’ve grown older (and moved to Nashville, the land of Four Abrupt and Allergy-Causing Seasons), Autumn has come to represent the inescapable circle of life. A firm reminder that beauty is only made beautiful when tinged by sorrow and time’s quick passing. That love is made special by the sheer temporary nature it holds — at some point life will move on without the other. A gentle nod to each of us that, though winter is approaching, it is merely part of the natural order of things, a reset that must happen in order for the rampant beauty of spring to occur, and the subdued beauty autumn to show its glory.
I often end these posts with a recipe or a song, but in reflecting on this year and what I want to become of this platform, I’ve decided to go a little more freestyle. One reason I quit writing recipes was because I got completely burned out on meeting my standards — photos taken, edited, blog post written and edited for Search Engine Optimization, a separate graphic created for Pinterest and Yummly, self promotion etc. It was too much to compete with my deeply fulfilling school and church jobs. So now, as I continue to grow with this blog, I am going to allow it to become a more authentic reflection of who I am and what I am doing — whether it’s hiking, exploring, photographing, creating, or -yes- writing recipes.
With this adjustment in mind, let me leave you, oh gentle reader, with a poem I will probably eventually compose a choral piece to due to how much its words resonant with me.
James Weldon Johnson – Deep in the Quiet Wood
Are you bowed down in heart?
Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
From out the palpitating solitude
Do you not catch, yet faint, elusive strains?
They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
Silently listen! Clear, and still more clear, they come.
They bubble up in rippling notes, and swell in singing tones.
Now let your soul run the whole gamut of the wondrous scale
Until, responsive to the tonic chord,
It touches the diapason of God’s grand cathedral organ,
Filling earth for you with heavenly peace
And holy harmonies.