Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Long...

Hobbes wrote of the Long Parliament (in Behemoth).

Vita Sackville-West and her husband, the diplomat Harold Nicolson, once lived at Long Barn, Sevenoaks Weald, Kent, parts of which date to the 14th century. (Incidentally, Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow rented the house from Vita and Harold after their son had been abducted.)

I heard a lecture a few days ago that reflected on narratives that frame the "long civil rights movement."

Long Island needs no introduction, nor does one of my summer favorites, Long Island Ice Tea.

But there is another famous "long," but one about which we hear very little: the long season, as in the long season of autumn.

Its temperate days and cool nights offer a preservative to autumnal blooms; at no other time are we treated to such longevity of blossom or profusion of color. Spring's riot of color comes a close second. But spring's fickleness appears as daffodils or tulips that relinquish their petals within a week; these are some of the vanguard that offer themselves to the stubborn throes of winter, sacrificial lambs intent on heralding a new dawn. If the rapid succession of blooms is spring's assertion of its own existence, then the longevity of blooms and the gradualist, measured expression of autonomy is autumn's.

If spring is a marked struggle between warmth and chill, a perilous balance between exuberance and destruction, then autumn...well, autumn remains special, sui generis. Its vanguard is hardly a vanguard, for it remains. But neither is it an ancien regime, facing inevitable erasure by the austerity of winter.

When many lament the passing of a "year," I am arrested by autumnal brilliance--a brilliance that simply remains. This is the long season. In late August the chrysanthemums and asters, the Toad Lilies and the Corydalis (again) appear: and even into late October and early to mid November, at least in these parts, they remain, gently expressing the certitude of their own existence.    

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