Well House Autumn Leaves Circle

Circle Dance centre created by Viola Lewis, Northampton

Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
    don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
    warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
    inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
    the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
    vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
    its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
    the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

– Mary Oliver

Before all the autumn leaves have quite blown off the trees, after last week’s gales, I thought I would post these thoughts.  This photo arrived from Chris of circle dancing late on the same day which began with Viv posting her striking photo of autumn leaves on an autumn leaf tablecloth.  Taken together, as a beginning and an ending, the two photographs framed the day beautifully.

I am not a regular or frequent circle dancer.  Perhaps I am too impatient by temperament and by nature.  However I do love the experience of dancing and moving to Israeli, Middle Eastern, Balkan music or Loreena McKennit (a favourite for modern choreographers), with a beautiful centrepiece such as this one – at dusk, after dark, by candlelight.  It is very soothing to the spirit and brings with it a feeling of genuine collectivity, connection and community.

And when I looked more closely at this picture I immediately thought of a patchwork quilt, another image of connection brought to life on this blog by another Chris – odds and ends, bits and pieces, brought together in a larger, more inclusive whole design (sometimes abstract) – with all the individual associations each scrap of fabric might hold for the maker. 

This has been a tiring year, I have only just realised, having been away in Edinburgh for a couple days walking on hilly streets confronted by bracing gales and inspired and energised by the majestic architecture, the cityscape and clear views to the sea; and then strolling on sandy beaches in North Berwick surrounded by rainbows and untouched by passing showers.

It has been a tough year for many of us and the organisations we are part of, and also a year of transition that is only just beginning, shedding activities (and people) like curling leaves that have withered on their branches in a stark social landscape.  Transition towards what? I wonder.  Are we in free fall?  I feel more hopeful than that.

‘In the deep fall
    don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind?’

I feel reasonably contented on my path, yet I am also aware that I am tuning out a lot of what is happening around me.  I don’t see the point of a rant, I don’t feel the benefit of focusing on what is negative.  It’s not that I am careless of social changes taking place around me, it’s that I find more point, meaning and value in focusing on what I can do and what gives energy in this moment.  So teaching a yoga class seems infinitely more valuable than bemoaning the ills of our present socio-political climate.

I am hoping the autumn leaves circle might inspire a feeling of connection, of social inclusion … and your thoughts of autumn, this favoured time of the year, as we transition towards this year’s ending leading us on to a new beginning.

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19 Responses to Well House Autumn Leaves Circle

  1. Chris says:

    I love this post and have returned to read it many times. But what to comment? It seems so complete in itself. The words are so beautifully chosen and the ideas expressed so apt and appropriate to where I find myself. I’ve had a year I shall prefer to forget rather than remember and like Karin I feel a great sense of focus on what is happening to me and what is and what isn’t important – what wastes energy to no useful purpose in the wider world. I’ll never circle dance – just not my thing – but I can see the attraction. But nature will wind on with its huge circle dance of the seasons and we shall live out our tiny lives privileged to watch and experience.

  2. Karin says:

    Hello Chris,
    thank you for your comment. I feel happy that this post resonates with you. I love your last sentence. Let’s wonder what next year will bring.

  3. psimon5 says:

    Chris, Karin, wonderful stuff. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, particularly the points on cycles and changes and focus and future. For me this thread stirs and rustles up ideas of Being Ready. I’m to turn forty in the new year, and looking forward to it. The beginning of my autumn perhaps, a settling, a contentment with myself, no longer holding on quite so hard to the branch. Looking forward to the settling blanket of warm reds and long shadows, perhaps some wisdom. Compare and contrast with my lovely wife who turns forty two days before me! She admits she sees autumn as the harbinger of winter; see her desperately sweeping up the leaves in our garden and, of course, her similar approach to turning forty!

    • Chris says:

      I love the idea of not clinging so manically to the branch – but from a lot further on 40 is merely the end of summer hovering on a distant horizon. Give it another 20 years before you think of Autumn.

  4. Karin says:

    Hi Simon, I like your comment, and when I read it, it echoed strongly what another friend (who was unfairly made redundant yesterday) said to me when I spoke to her yesterday evening, about feeling comfortable in her own skin at long last, ‘no longer holding on quite so hard to the branch’ – you put it so well. Like the different images you conjure up.

  5. Madhu Sameer says:

    Fall, is beautiful, but for me it is just a precurser to spring. For some reason my anticipation gets the better of me. Perhaps this is because my backyard is new, and theer are no massive trees there yet. So I cannot experience fall at home, but spring? Ah spring is made infinitely beautiful by my roses.

    I should get out more often. If just to be….

  6. Karin says:


    I can see your roses in my mind’s eye, thanks for your comment which begs a question – what about winter?

    For me, California has no winter, so roses bloom, in Southern Calif anyway, in winter. And here in the UK roses are synonymous with summer, and some are still hanging on as we move towards winter.

    I love getting out and just being but it can be hard from home when there is so much to do……even though footpaths beckon just outside the door.


  7. Madhu Sameer says:


    Winter? Ah winter. The forgetfulness was unconscious deliberate. I hibernate!


  8. Chris says:

    Hibernation? But what about crisp white snow, early in the morning with a frosty haze hanging over it? Snowballs? Snowmen? Fir trees looking like wedding cakes? The icy rasp of cold air in your lungs? The unbelievable warmth when you come inside? Hot toddies? Logs on the fire? Roast chestnuts done in the ashes? Carol singers? All to be enjoyed in their season …. and still Spring to come as the prize at the end.

  9. Madhu Sameer says:

    Logs on the fire……ummm….I might concede to this. Others….too cold, too cold, too cold. Sheesh! And since it doesn’t snow here, I have to put chains on the wheels of my car to experience any of these, which I don’t know how to do……and snow reminds me of having to wait endlessly, hiding in a book in all that cold, while my kids snowboard and/or ski…..I try to grin, but that doesn’t quite work most of the time…….

    Nah! Hibernate is better!


    • Chris says:

      OK. I give in. Each to their own. You can hibernate. But only provided you wake up often enough to contribute to the blog regularly. I like your style and enjoy your comments.

  10. Susan says:

    Lovely post Karin. I do like this time of year, both autumn and winter, because I feel more at home in colder temperatures than in the summer when I am often too hot. There is something about the colour of the leaves, the maturing landscape, the churn and change, that resonates with me. I like the feeling that the seasons are bigger than we are and that they endure no matter what is happening in our lives, but that we are connected to them. I love the image of letting go of the branch and of the sense of perfection and destiny that there is in that moment.

  11. Karin says:

    Hi Susan, I thought you would like the image of letting go of the branch. It resonates well for many of us with current times.

  12. Viv says:

    This is a beautiful post full of many thoughts.
    I have noticed that this theme has cropped up among many I talk to, and I do think there is something beyond the purely personal in this.
    I have been thinking about the dual nature of life: without darkness, is there light? Without winter, would we value Spring.
    *goes away to ponder some more.*
    Thank you; thought provoking and beautifully put. I liked the poem a great deal too, full of yearning wistfulness. I have Loreena McKennit’s most recent Christmas Cd playing downstairs as I write, drawing me into other times and dimensions.

    • Karin says:

      Thanks, Viv, for both comments. Lovely poem and picture.
      I agree about there being something beyond the purely personal.
      This post now feels a long ways away to me – partly the weather change, the leaves are truly fallen now, but also a strange week with many questions and discoveries.
      Happy Thanksgiving.

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