Frost's Fall

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"The last long aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"

Have you ever noticed how many poems are about fall? Robert Frost, who wrote those lines, gave us many. As summer turns to autumn, I find myself asking the same question the old New Englander did: Whither? What's next?

The transition between seasons will be subtler this year in Sonoma, where I live. Our summer has been darker and cooler than usual. In July and August, we had what my Louisiana friends call "gumbo weather." I resigned myself, did what they do, and made a gumbo.

If summer is a time for taking off and sleeping late, fall is industry. What grew in the garden must now be contained in brine and jars, or sugared and jellied, or stashed in the freezer with a prayer the power doesn't go out.

Again to Frost:
"Give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest."


That was from his hopeful, youthful "Prayer in Spring." That was then.

Six hundred thousand Americans received foreclosure notices in the last two months. For them and many others, it has been a dark, unpredictable summer. A climate of uncertainty surrounds us: fitful weather, unemployment, wars and budget crises at every level of government. When the structures we have relied upon wobble, we are cast back upon what we can trust: sturdy relationships, the calendar, the rhythms of life. Still we resist change, even if to migrate means our survival.

Yet change we must. Once more to Frost:
"When was it ever less than a treason
 To go with the drift of things,
 To yield with a grace to reason,
 And bow and accept the end
 Of a love or a season?"

With a Perspective, I'm Jill Hunting.