Every autumn, I hope that October will be free of wind and rain so that the leaves will stay a little longer. Every autumn, my hopes prove to be forlorn. But there are always compensations.
Yesterday, on my afternoon walk, I passed through a grove of Big-Leaf maples. The grove is about 200 yards long, and the interlacing top boughs form a canopy overhead. The compensation of which I speak was at my feet: the path down which I walked was completely covered with a carpet of fallen leaves.
Granted, this is not unexpected in autumn. But what set this carpet apart was its pattern of colors. Fallen Big-Leaf maple leaves are usually yellow or brown, or a rusty combination of the two. However, because it is still early autumn, hundreds of large green leaves had fallen in the wind as well. The green and brown and yellow leaves created a lovely tapestry of colors upon the path that lay before me. The path was a mosaic, a jigsaw puzzle, of yellow and green and brown.
Falling Leaves Mingle with the Rain
Frosted leaves, trailing the wind, fly, scatter in a tumble,
tumbling with the sudden shower, now this way, now that.
Parting from branches, leaf after leaf raps at my door and window,
joining with the sound of drops from the tall eaves of my study.
Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672) (translated by Burton Watson), in Burton Watson, Kanshi: The Poetry of Ishikawa Jozan and Other Edo-Period Poets (North Point Press 1990).
A lonely four-mat hut --
All day no one in sight.
Alone, sitting beneath the window,
Only the continual sound of falling leaves.
Ryokan (1758-1831) (translated by John Stevens), in John Stevens, One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan (Weatherhill 1977).