October. The month of the dead and the dying.
As I shuffle through the arroyo, I keep dropping to my knees. An onlooker might mistake me for a pilgrim making my painful way to Lourdes. But the healing I seek cannot be found at some distant, holy shrine. It is here in the dust at my feet: palo verde twigs snapped off by windstorms; brown clumps of parched grasses; and small stones quickly losing their warmth as the daylight fades.
I pause before some tattered sunflowers, bleached and bitten by the unforgiving desert sun, to quench my thirst. Words from a letter written long ago come to mind: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…” (1 Corinthians 1:28, Revised Standard Version).
Low and despised is nature’s detritus in the wilderness, but it heals my battered spirit as I kneel in awe and wonder before it.
While three crows argue,
I gulp tea from my thermos—
autumn’s first chill wind.
An autumn-hued cottonwood leaf in summer, Riverside County, California.
A car’s side mirror reflects autumn colors, Inyo National Forest near Bishop, California
Animas River near Cedar Hill, San Juan County, New Mexico
Robert J. Moody Demonstration Garden, Yuma, Arizona
Jim Harrison’s final book of poems, Dead Man’s Float