“October is a hallelujah! reverberating in my body year-round.” ~John Nichols
September sings her last blues riff on the prairie.
The calendar pages over to October. We rush to embrace everything the season has to offer, ready for a change. Ready for something new.
The tallgrass crackles with static electricity, throwing off seed sparks in every direction. Do you feel the tingle?
A cool front moves in. Skies cloud over; turn bumpy metal. The bright greens of summer begin to drain into autumn’s palette of russet, copper, and cream.
Leaves loosen their grip. Let go. Let go. A free-fall transition.
You can feel surrender in the air. A beautiful loss, bittersweet. As Anatole France wrote, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy….”
Everywhere in the tallgrass, seeds blow away, fall to the ground, or are collected by volunteers. The seeds are the future; glimpsed but uncertain.
At dawn-break, sun lights the mist rising over the tallgrass. We hold our breath.
What will autumn have in store for us?
I can’t wait to find out.
The opening quote is from The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn by John Nichols (1940-). Nichols also wrote the well-known novel, The Milagro Beanfield War, which explores history, ethnicity, and land and water rights.
Anatole France (1844-1924), who wrote the other quote used in this essay, was a French poet and novelist who won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature.
All photos copyright Cindy Crosby: (top to bottom) Mist rising in big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; you-pick pumpkin patch, Jonamac Orchard, Malta, IL; Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) , Conrad Station Savanna, The Nature Conservancy and DNR, Morocco, IN; road through the tallgrass, Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL; three leaves, Springbrook Nature Center, Itasca, IL; unknown milkweed (Asclepias spp.), Conrad Station Savanna, The Nature Conservancy and Indiana DNR, Morocco, IL; crescent moon over author’s backyard prairie patch, Glen Ellyn, IL; mist rising with prairie plants and non-natives at Hidden Lake Forest Preserve, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Downer’s Grove, IL.