"Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun...."
I saw something that made those words by the Irish poet, Padraic Pearse, popped in to my head today. No, it wasn't a squirrel, or a ladybug, or a rabbit. It was just a tree and marvelous fall sky.
After a couple weeks of near-record high temperatures, the weather has suddenly turned, and become - well, not quite cold, but definitely chilly. We have had almost of week of rain, and very dramatic rain it has been too. There has been a good deal of lightening, and thunder. For a few days, the rain came down so hard, that it made a lively tattoo on the roof, and shattered itself to bits when it struck the road. There was hail once or twice, and a great deal of wind and commotion. It was delightful.
That particular weather system is being pushed out of the area, and we are supposed to me having somewhat warmer weather, with a good deal more sunshine. Today, however, though the rain had stopped, it was still prodigiously overcast. The sky was grey - that goes without saying - but it was not that flat, unbroken grey that stretches from horizon to horizon without variety. It was a sky jostled with great billows of deep smoke and violet, and a curious colour as close to blue as it is to grey. There were long, calm streaks of paler hues: dove, and cream and pearl. And, in one or two spots the clouds pulled themselves so thin, that ethereal blue pools appeared.
It was against this quintessentially autumn sky that I saw the tree. It was a maple tree, with small, delicate leaves, like bits of lace. It was flanked by two birches, whose branches had been turned into living gold by the cold. They were very beautiful, indeed, but the maple, towering above them, was lovelier still. For it hand not just turned to gold, but into a living flame, full of every shade of fire, from palest yellow to crimson. It burned against the riotous grey sky in singular glory, and at the sight of it, my heart was shaken by great joy, too.