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A Pledge of Allegiance to Autumn and Wheeling Blackbirds

September 21st, 2013 by Michael Dyet

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic Poet, 1792 – 1822

Hmmm, of all the seasons with their varied glories, I owe to autumn my soul’s allegiance.

Time has become an elusive commodity in our modern world. There are still 24 hours in a day. But they seem to slip away from us much faster. The turbocharged pace of life keeps us on the proverbial treadmill. As hard as I try to gear down on the weekends to enjoy the splendour of the seasons, I still find myself racing the clock more often than not.

Spring is the season of anticipation. It quickens my pulse with the expectation of the miracle of migration. I set out in the morning determined to cover as much territory as possible. It pains me to think I might miss a rare species which is passing through on that particular day.

Summer is the season of excess. All of nature’s children exult in its glory. Butterflies cavort in the meadows and dragonflies patrol the marshes to squeeze every ounce of life out of the few weeks they are given. I in turn pursue them with vigour knowing they will be gone all too soon.

Winter is the season of endurance. It has its moments of spectacular beauty. Intricate frost etchings on windowpanes. Wind sculpted drifts of virgin snow. Diamond-glittered ice glazing on naked trees. But I am not a winter person. I wait it out impatiently wishing the time away.

Autumn is the one time of year in which I seem to be able to slow my heart and linger in the graces of the season. The days may be getting shorter. But I don’t feel compelled to race them to their conclusion. As Shelley so eloquently puts it, there is a harmony in autumn that can’t be found in the other seasons.

“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable…the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.” ~ Hal Borland, American Author and Journalist, 1900 – 1978

Autumn begins for me, regardless of the date on the calendar, when the first wheeling flock of blackbirds passes overhead and falls out of the sky in unison to perch on hydro wires. A silent cadence settles over me then as I take in the first breath of the new season.

Yes, autumn passes, like spring and summer, too quickly for my liking. Life’s demands deprive me of the leisure I crave to fully explore the feast it offers. But I find it easier to release myself into its calming embrace. I wish it could linger awhile longer but I do not begrudge its slow and steady progression.

And so, autumn is my metaphor for contentment. I am content to watch the leaves flame into colour, wither and fall. I am content to say farewell to the birds as they shed their summer garb and hasten south. I am content to give thanksgiving for the harmony of the season.

The final words belong to George Eliot:

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot, English Novelist, 1819 – 1880

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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