Sunday, 25 October 2015



Autumn is the season when trees in preparation for the winter months have one last hurrah. They are decked with brilliant hues of orange and red. The ground carpeted in the same hues rustles underfoot as gentle but cooler breezes buffet the sleeves and gently caress the cheeks of strollers.

With the diminishing daylight and the earth shrouded in darkness carved pumpkins, with ghoulish faces illuminated by candles, make their debut every October on porches and doorsteps all during the Halloween season to uplift our spirits. This long standing practice, whether in Europe or North America, originated with an Irish folktale about a man called Stingy Jack.

Was stingy Jack a good character or not, you may judge for yourself. We all know the Devil stands for something evil, something we should avoid. Perhaps Stingy Jack was pestered by the Devil and he devised this recourse. Anyhow, without further ado let me relate the fable.

Stingy Jack once invited the Devil to have a drink with him but, as Stingy Jack’s name reveals, he had no intention of paying for the drink. With his glib tongue Stingy Jack convinced the Devil to transform himself into a coin with which to pay the bartender for their drinks. But when the Devil turned himself into a glistening gold coin Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross that would prevent the Devil from ever changing back into his original form. Now in an advantageous position to negotiate Jack eventually agreed to free the Devil with the proviso that the Devil would not bother Jack for at least one year and, in the event Jack suddenly dies, the Devil would not claim his soul.

Rather a clever chap, wouldn’t you agree? But he was far from being an angel. He was an unsavory, immoral character after all. The next year, Jack again managed to trick this unbelievably gullible Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not descend until he gave his word not to claim Jack’s soul for another ten years.

Alas, soon after this Jack died. As the myth goes, God refused admittance of such an unsavory character into heaven. The Devil, still miffed by the trick Jack had played on him and, in keeping with his bargain, could not claim his soul nor allow Jack admittance into Hell. He therefore sent Jack packing into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. The ever resourceful Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has ever since been roaming the Earth. Sometime later still it is said that the Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

Overtime in Ireland and Scotland, people getting creative began carving their own versions of scary images of Jack’s lanterns into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to scare away Stingy Jack and other wondering evil spirits.

With the influx of Irish immigrants in North America this tradition was soon incorporated into new world culture. As pumpkins were sturdier and more readily available they became the star attraction.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Ode to Autumn

Ode to Autumn

“No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace

As I have seen in one Autumnal face.”

John Donne


"How silently they tumble down

And come to rest upon the ground

To lay a carpet, rich and rare,

Beneath the trees without a care,

Content to sleep, their work well done,

Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly

Until they nearly reach the sky.

Twisting, turning through the air

Till all the trees stand stark and bare.

Exhausted, drop to earth below

To wait, like children, for the snow."

(By Elsie N. Brady)

"O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being.

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing."

By Percy Bysshe Shelley 

"November comes

And November goes,

With the last red berries

And the first white snows.

With night coming early,

And dawn coming late,

And ice in the bucket

And frost by the gate.

The fires burn

And the kettles sing,

And earth sinks to rest

Until next spring."

By Elizabeth Coatsworth

“Every season hath its pleasures;

Spring may boast her flowery prime,

Yet the vineyard’s ruby treasures

Brighten Autumn’s sob’rer time.”

Thomas Moore

"When the trees their summer splendor

Change to raiment red and gold,

When the summer moon turns mellow,

And the nights are getting cold;

When the squirrels hide their acorns,

And the woodchucks disappear;

Then we know that it is autumn,

Loveliest season of the year."

By Carol L. Riser, Autumn

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. 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."

[Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]”

― George Eliot

"The morns are meeker than they were,

The nuts are getting brown;

The berry's cheek is plumper,

The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,

The field a scarlet gown.

Lest I should be old-fashioned,

I'll put a trinket on."

By Emily Dickinson

Lyric of Autumn

"There is music in the meadows, in the air --

Autumn is here;

Skies are gray, but hearts are mellow,

Leaves are crimson, brown, and yellow;

Pines are soughing, birches stir,

And the Gipsy trail is fresh beneath the fir.

There is rhythm in the woods, and in the fields,

Nature yields:

And the harvest voices crying,

Blend with Autumn zephyrs sighing;

Tone and color, frost and fire,

Wings the nocturne Nature plays upon her lyre."

By William Stanley Braithwaite

"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content."

Lin Yutang

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

Albert Camus

"Come said the wind to

the leaves one day,

Come o're the meadows

and we will play.

Put on your dresses

scarlet and gold,

For summer is gone

and the days grow cold."

- A Children's Song of the 1880's


I like the woods

In autumn

When dry leaves hide the ground,

When the trees are bare

And the wind sweeps by

With a lonesome rushing sound.

I can rustle the leaves

In autumn

And I can make a bed

In the thick dry leaves

That have fallen

From the bare trees


By James S. Tippett 

The Last Leaf

by Harry Behn

A few leaves stay for a while on the trees

After their color begins to turn,

And no other leaves seem as gold as these

Not even the ones our bonfires burn

With golden flames in piles on the ground.

A few leaves stay so long that I found

The one last leaf on a tree in the snow,

And when a galloping wind came round

The edge of our house and started to blow

Snow dust to sparkles floating free.

When the wind ran away, almost with me,

And sunshine settled quiet and cold.

There, like a bird, still on the tree

Was that lonesome leaf, no longer gold

But curly and brown and dry and old.

Autumn wins you best by this, its mute

Appeal to sympathy for its decay.

Robert Browning

The End

Friday, 16 October 2015

Accurate Proportion

Accurate Proportion

Sen no Rikyu, a tea-master, wished to hang a flower basket on a column. He asked a carpenter to help him, directing the man to place it a little higher or lower, to the right or left, until he had found exactly the right spot. "That's the place," said Sen no Rikyu finally.

The carpenter, to test the master, marked the spot and then pretended he had forgotten. Was this the place? "Was this the place, perhaps?" the carpenter kept asking, pointing to various places on the column.

But so accurate was the tea-master's sense of proportion that it was not until the carpenter reached the identical spot again that its location was approved.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Thoughtful Reflections

Thoughtful Reflections

Be independent and cling to nothing.


The prior moment of thinking, in which there is attachment to things, is that of affliction. The next moment of thinking, in which there is separation from things, is that of Perfect Wisdom.

The Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch

You know these things as thoughts, but your thoughts are not your experiences, they are the echo and after-effect of your experiences: as when your room trembles after a carriage goes past. I however am sitting in the carriage, and often I am the carriage itself.

Friedrich Nietzsche 

If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.

Albert Camus

Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.

Henry Van Dyke 

Our entire life, with our fine moral code and our precious freedom, consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are.

Jean Anouilh

Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce

The End.