First frost last night. Rosy dawn. I like the slowness of hot coffee with milk and the warmth of the mug in my hands.
Hardy mums – why are the fruit and flowers rising up first? I promise my 30 words are not just seasonal.
I won a big pot of hardy mums seventeen years ago. It was in a 10k race on the South Fork of Long Island. The route went through small towns, tiny towns – they might have even been called villages – and harvested potato fields. Summer was over, which on that part of the island meant the population had shrunk from glamorous to local over the space of Labor Day weekend.
Anyway, the mums. I had never won a race. I didn’t win this race either, but I won the mums. It was the kind of country race where everyone wins something at the end: a bottle of wine, a gift-certificate to a diner, oven gloves. Someone won a 50 lb. sack of potatoes. My partner won a massive outdoor circular thermometer (2 feet in diameter).
I didn’t know hardy meant the mums were meant to be planted then, outside, at the beginning of autumn to bring a few more weeks of colour and bloom. There was so much I didn’t know then. So I kept them inside, in our bedroom, at the foot of my bed. They probably would have lived longer had I known they were bred for cold nights and short days.
The other thing about that race – it was my first, or possibly second, 10k. To make it through the miles, I recited a poem to myself over and over that I had memorised that summer for a ‘Teaching of Poetry’ class I had taken. Although I no longer know it all by heart, if I sit still, I can call back some lines. Here is the poem:
Eagle Poem – by Joy Harjo
To pray you open your whole selfTo sky, to earth, to sun, to moonTo one whole voice that is you.And know there is moreThat you can’t see, can’t hear;Can’t know except in momentsSteadily growing, and in languagesThat aren’t always sound but otherCircles of motion.Like eagle that Sunday morningOver Salt River. Circled in blue skyIn wind, swept our hearts cleanWith sacred wings.We see you, see ourselves and knowThat we must take the utmost careAnd kindness in all things.Breathe in, knowing we are made ofAll this, and breathe, knowingWe are truly blessed because weWere born, and die soon within aTrue circle of motion,Like eagle rounding out the morningInside us.We pray that it will be doneIn beauty.In beauty.