I found it again: the little scrap of paper that my mother cut from the newspaper and gave me along with a new Bible. It reminds me of how much I love this season of the year--autumn. It's the best time, the time of renewal. I've always thought that, and that is why my mother thought of me when she read the poem that long ago Sunday. I tucked that little bit of newsprint next to the Psalm I was reading that day, and there it has stayed since 1972.
They are back again
The purple asters and the goldenrod
I found them blooming in the lane
A royal robe made by the hand of God
Each year when September comes to call
In regal splendor for all to see
They tell the world that it is fall
How could I doubt that here they'd be?
When most folks decorate for autumn, they use russet colors: oranges and browns. But my mind turns to thoughts of purple and gold--that's autumn in my Mississippi. Wildflowers bloom by the millions along every lane and roadway, in every field and fallow place. Wild ageratum. Meadow beauty. Purple aster. Goldenrod. Brown-eyed susans. It's so beautiful. The blooming starts late in September and peaks mid-October. Those weeks are a wonderland.
While the leaves in the northern part of the US began turning a month ago, our trees won't show color until Thanksgiving or even early December. That's the end of autumn, as I see it--the end of the flower time and the beginning of the time of rest when trees are bare and the world seems silent with waiting.
Autumn is the best time, the time of renewal; it's lively, even at the end of the season. Leaves don't fall off the tree just because the've died--they are pushed off by the new buds waiting to be born. It's all about change and growing and learning.
That Bible tells me about the process of growth, too. The old Marked Reference edition that my mother gave me is worn now, and the binding is a bit loose. Parts of the New Testament have a tendency to slip out, especially Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians--those four are the blocks in my neighborhood, and Philippians 4:6 is my home address. I have a newer Bible but that old Zondervan just feels right in my hands and my heart.
Autumn also feels right. Purple and gold. When every rose and lily from carefully planted human gardens has become tired and faded from the heat of the long summer, wildflowers burst open. They need no tending. My mother always said that God's garden is the best one. And that's right, too.