John Burroughs and between seasons

must be fall_with nameWe, meaning those of us who reside in the western hemisphere, are between seasons; for sometimes it is as warm as a summer day and the next it is cool and fall-like. And though there is no name for this in- between season, the trees seem to agree. One has only to look around and observe that many of the leaves have not made up their minds either as to what season it really is.

The red maple, for example, presents her foliage as half-green and half-orange. The green leaves are hanging on to their end of the summer color as stubbornly as a child who refuses to eat his or her vegetables. But, like the child that will eventually have to complete the meal, these leaves will eventually have to submit to the inevitable by exchanging their dwindling summer green to a more glorious golden orange. It is a wonder that we too are not sure what to do about our own apparel…whether we should keep our t-shirts in the drawers or remove our sweaters from the cedar closet!

So, like those who look to the groundhog to determine the length of winter and are sadly disappointed that he will not come out of his warm burrow, do not rely upon the metamorphosis of leaves for the official start of autumn. But rather, it will be Mother Nature, like the stern mother that she is, who will cast her seasonal spell upon us, and we will awaken to the harvest days of fall!

John burroughs 2Today’s post is a return visit from the esteemed thinker: John Burroughs (1837-1921) a man who reminds us to observe and take time out of our hectic day to enjoy earth’s free gifts. (And who does not like something for free?) Born in Roxbury, New York he is known to us as an essayist, environmentalist, and conservationist. His union with nature was prominent in his work and his writing.

And so I bring you a snippet of his lovely words from his book, Under the Maples…which is most fitting for today!

“The time of the falling of leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept.

How beautifully the leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days! There are exceptions, of course. The leaves of most of the fruit-trees fade and wither and fall ingloriously. They bequeath their heritage of color to their fruit. Upon it they lavish the hues which other trees lavish upon their leaves. The pear-tree is often an exception. I have seen pear orchards in October painting a hillside in hues of mingled bronze and gold. And well may the pear-tree do this, it is so chary of color upon its fruit.

But in October what a feast to the eye our woods and groves present! The whole body of the air seems enriched by their calm, slow radiance. They are giving back the light they have been absorbing from the sun all summer…”

Henri Rousseau and cats

pebbles on the landing_with name Although the phrase, “Dog is man’s best friend,” it may actually be a misnomer for according to some folks, it is the cat that rules the roost. And yes, we all know that it is the dog that greets you when you come in from work, the dog that accompanies you on long walks in the park, and it is the dog that sleeps by the foot of the bed. Yet, isn’t this he same beast that is “oh so needy”. How often do we have to come home just to “feed” the dog because he or she is too greedy not to leave some for later, or we have to “get home” quickly to take the dog out because it can’t do its business on its own, or get back to the house to “check on the dog” because it can’t be trusted not to keep the sofa pillows out of its mouth or overturn the flowerpot!

But the cat, with its self-sufficiency, its independence, and yes, smugness about its aloofness as well as its ability to get what it wants by sauntering and parading about on little cat pads…we all might just admit that just perhaps it is the feline that might be deserving of the phrase, “Cat is man’s best friend.” After all, it can’t help it if they consider us “staff”… teasing us with just enough affection to lead us into a false sense of necessity. But perhaps, with all their independence and self-reliance they just don’t need us after all, but rather they are stringing us along for their next fix of cat nip!

Today’s post brings back the esteemed thinker Henri Rousseau (1844-1910 b. Laval, France), a most creative and a self-taught genius whose paintings are of high artistic quality. Rousseau, a French artist, is famous for his representation of the jungle, though he never left Paris. In addition to his exotic scenes there was a parallel production of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs. His work is often categorized into several different periods: Post-Impressionism, Naïve art, Modern art, and Primitivism.

I now bring you Rousseau’s painting titled, “Portrait of Pierre Loti”, a most interesting work that defines the cat’s ability to showcase itself in a most unassuming and cunning way…for clearly we can see it assumes a prominent spot in this portrait!

Rousseau portrait-of-pierre-loti

Esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau

There are twenty-four hours in the day all making up the exact amount of minutes, sixty-per-hour to be exact. However, it is curious that some of these hours seem to fly by, not allowing us to complete specific tasks. It is during this time that we often say, “time flies”. Yet, on the opposite pole, there exists times when we feel an hour goes by so slowly that we wish it away. These creeping hours are universally agreed upon to be relegated to the occasions when we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back to sleep.

During these fitful hours nothing seems to agree. Our pillows are too flat or too thick, our sheets are too hot or too cold, and the room is too quiet or too noisy. The clock’s ticking or lit numbers seem too loud or too bright, and seem only remind to us that we should be asleep.

Twenty-four hours in the day may be the official count however, during unintentional times we are awake instead of sleeping, twenty –four hours seems interminable. rousseau image

Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a self-taught French artist born in Laval, France. His nickname, “Le Douanier” (“the customs officer”) by his acquaintances in the Parisian avant-garde was given to him because of his occupation as a toll collector. During his life as an artist he was often ridiculed as not being good, and unlike his peers who profited by their art, Rousseau did not.
His style, often described as childlike and naïve, did in fact portray his subjects with bold colors and very personalized style. His style was never appreciated by the conservative art officials in Paris, yet he was able to find exhibitions that accepted his work to be shown.

It was contemporary artist friends such as Camille Pissarro who praised his direct approach. After his death in 1910, his work did influence other artists; from his friend Picasso to Max Ernst and the Surrealists.

And so, I bring you a most famous painting by “Le Douanier”, which envisions those set hours we call night….here is an oil on canvas titled “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897).

rousseau_ sleeping gypsy

Second image: Henri Rousseau 1902 photomechanical print : photogravure