On Seeing and Loving the Little Things

Autumn, for me, has always been a time of quiet reflection and introspection. Summer is full of the loud and lush: crickets chirp throughout the night, cicadas rattle in the trees, and bees buzz through the brightest-colored flowers. Autumn has a beautiful taciturnity about it–the chilly wind quiets the dinny hum of summer, making beatific birdsong and crunching of leaves stand out all the more. I come to appreciate the Little Things more easily in the autumn: the way a maple leaf gracefully drifts to the ground, the way the sunbeams filter through treetops on a misty morning, or the quiet scuttle of a cheeky chipmunk dashing back to its burrow. This season invites me to “feel the welcome of small particulars” that Marilyn Nelson describes so perfectly in the poem below.

Roxanne Steed. Autumn Morning at J. Alden Weir Farm. 2013. Oil on Belgian linen.

Step out of the frame again, and be
enveloped in birdsong and dapple.
Feel the welcome of small particulars:
the grove beside that boulder,
the white horse tied in front of that barn.
With eyes made tender, see
those elms, from shadows on the grass
to the highest leaves’ shimmer.

With your friends, lovers, family, stride
across this chromatic broken brushwork.
Sit a minute at the granite picnic table
with the artist’s daughters, dressed in summer white.
You can daub this earth, so lyric, so gentle,
from the limited palette of your own love right now.
Any place you care for can hold an easel.
Everything around you is beautiful plein aire.

-Marilyn Nelson, from Weir Farm (source)

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