© 2009 Oona McOuat
Each night the stag comes. There is only a window separating my nocturnal habit of tapping my fingers on a glowing box, his of munching on fallen apples. As his eyes meet mine through the glass, a primal jolt awakens a longing to abandon my endless emails and fill my nostrils with the night scents of turning leaves and early autumn.
Autumn, autumnus - the word is most likely derived from the Etruscan autu, and is related to avil (or year) and menos meaning loss. The year is dying. And as we harvest the bounty of the fecund growing season we also prepare for its death.
Today, all over the planet we sit poised in perfect balance between light and dark. Tomorrow, those in the south move towards the light while those of us in the north prepare for the season of darkness.
I move from desk to door to outdoors, my computer-bleary mind racing with all that needs to be done. There's a nagging worry that I might not get the harvest in before the winter comes.
Deep inhale of musky blackberry bushes and yellowing maples, and a falling star, a dying star, streaks across the sky in one last awe-awakening dance. The stag stirs and eats another apple out of necessity and pleasure, and the words of poet Mary Oliver run through my head:
"Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
I think of growing deeper and wilder, leaping hungrily, instinctually, over the moss-covered stones, waning sun on my face, berry-stained hands ripping bark from trees to find honey flowing from dripping combs. Finger to comb to mouth, everything sticky with the pollen of a hundred flowers now faded. Feasting as if the sweetness will never end. Living as if I am dying, balanced between the darkness and the light.