A Bouquet of Leaves & Poetry: One Solution for Slowing Time & Savoring Autumn

Do you feel like you’re in a race to fit everything into your day?  Do you sometimes sacrifice connection with those you love as you sprint toward the elusive finish line?  And do you find your ability to savor all that Autumn has to offer gets lost too?  If you answered YES! YES! YES! Rest assured you’re in good company with so many other hard-working mamas.  But even better, I have a solution for you.  It’s my favorite remedy for fast-flying days. . . .
poetry tea time. 

Poetry Tea Time has become our family’s respite in the midst of the busy seasons.  Sometimes it just looks like a stack of poetry books and a plate of cookies, and it’s beautiful.  At other times, when I’m feeling a little more inspired, there’s a sort of magic that settles upon our teatime and it’s beyond beautiful!!  Either way, I try to remember that connection is the focus.  And let’s be honest, whenever we focus on connection, there is beauty.

Last week’s teatime was a magical one.  Fall had finally settled into the trees outside our door and the crisp air beckoned us to walk long trails.  As little hands will do, they gathered bouquets of leaves, and of course, these leaves made their way to our kitchen table.  That’s when inspiration found me, and boy, was she was a gracious visitor!  (I have learned to open the door as soon as she knocks because you never know how long she’ll be staying.) 

So the next morning, the scent of apple crisp greeted six sleepy-heads as they woke.  One by one, they joined me in the kitchen.  They knew what was up.  One plucked the poetry books from their shelf, being sure to put the seasonal ones on top.  Another set the plates and cups.  A third rummaged around to find the battery-operated candles we keep on hand for special occasions.  (Someday, everyone will be old enough for authentic flames but for now, these work quite well.)  The rest simply lingered watching birds at the feeder, checking on the monarch chrysalis at the center of the table, the little ones making a line of their treasured leaves across the table.  All of us soaking in the warmth of the moment. It was one of those moments that you want to live in forever, when time actually feels soothingly slow.  I was afraid my words would break the magic and so I welcomed Robert Frost to begin.

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

One by one, poems were found like lost treasures and favorite friends.  We read and ate and conversed and spilled some milk.  It was magical.

The leaves that had been brought home like treasures were passed around.  Each person describing each leaf laid before him.  (I may have casually mentioned terms like adjective and verb.)  Together, we wrote these words and phrases onto the leaves, creating a poem that in its simplicity, captured Autumn.  It was magical. 

Color collage
Speckled auburn dots
Tie dyed velvet red
  Twisting in air
Like a perfect sunset
Full of red and orange
To light the sky with beauty

Later on, I dipped those leaves into melted beeswax so that even as the trees outside turn to brown and the skies become covered with clouds, our leaves, our words joined together in poetry, will still look as though the sun is shining in them. 

Now, hanging in the kitchen, above the well-worn table that is filling with so many memories, is Autumn.  Our savored morning made visible, gently calling us back to sit a while longer.  Reminding us that time can slow if only we give it space to breathe.