Sweet melancholy

Deer pauses against autumn foliage

I am very melancholy this morning.  Not trying to change it.  Not trying to make everything happy and cheerful.  Simply watching this mood and honoring its arrival.

It may have departed before you read this blog.

Road signs

Autumn can bring sweet melancholy, can it not?  It arrives–at least in this northern part of the world–and brings vivid beauty in vibrant colors of orange, red and yellow. 

It struts.  It poses.  It takes away our breath with its stunning display.

Yet–all too soon–in a blink of an eye, it often seems–it departs, the leaves turning brown, falling from the trees, disappearing from our still-stunned memory.

Flash of vibrant orange and red

We may feel a loss of innocence, a dim memory of summer picnics, the smell of fresh peaches and strawberries, the dazzling wind-blown spirit of a lupine or daisy.

In the winter of our lives, bare bones of trees click together in the frigid moonlight and we must, once again, adjust our vision to view simplicity as beautiful.  To know that black-and-white can stir the heart.  To turn inward toward the campfire of our soul.

Sweet melancholy of autumn

So, in autumn, we stand between.  Between memories of short-sleeves and lounging on the deck.  Between cook-outs and boat rides.  Between icy storms and deep snow.

We pause.

Rich river colors

In our lives, we often experience these autumn feelings when we let go (either willingly or screaming with indignant frustration) of the things that no longer serve us.

People get sick.  Loved ones die. 

Everything changes without our invitation or permission.

With every passing season, we let go that which once breathed and stood in vibrant glory.

Bridge Bouquet of yellow

Did we truly appreciate the vibrant glory as it existed?  Or were we too busy thinking of tomorrow’s duties and challenges? 

I so often pray to live more simply.  But what does it mean to live simply?

After all these years, I think it has less to do with possessions that with the ability to be totally present with what is in front of us.  To be with the gift of the moment as it rises–and then falls–before another moment rises and falls like the dance of seasons.

And now for a cup of coffee. Pumpkins, anyone?

This morning, while Barry casts his line deep in Lake Superior for the last time this season, I drove slowly to town for a cup of coffee, wanting to share what is in front and center in our lives with my blog friends and family.  The precious moment which is unfolding now. 

I still feel melancholy, but that is OK.  Someone–I don’t remember who–once said that when we deeply experience our own soul it feels like absolute joy tinged with melancholy. 

Wishing you sweet autumn days as we gracefully release that which is no longer needed…and embrace the new energies which emerge in our life daily.


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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44 Responses to Sweet melancholy

  1. Nicole Smith says:

    Wishing you a very sweet Sunday and autumn – whether melancholic or joyful or anything else. As for me I am so exhilarated about joining the new choir and beginning to learn the Beethoven 9! Looking forward to doing the Messiah again as well, and very excited about starting to rehearse for the Rachmaninoff in January.

  2. holessence says:

    “Simply watching this mood and honoring its arrival.”

    You’re a wise woman.

  3. Elisa's Spot says:

    I can confuse what I think you are describing… I can get a joy so large that my insides twist and pull until I cry. And I breathe out and a calm mooring sits there, and I don’t have to decide, and no one is watching and I can just be and just express.

    Other times I can take that pulling feeling as a sign that something is off or wrong with me, then I just figure more will be revealed and I soak up what is near to me. Pssst, I am trying not to notice the fall and to notice allllllllllllll of the living things, which in a funny way, then include some red edged leaves and a peek of orange or yellow here or there. I bet I’d soon stop noticing should there be nothing of change to notice!

    • Kathy says:

      Elisa, I like how you show that it sometimes be one way; sometimes another. It sounds good to be noticing all things, not just the fall. Whatever is in your world now.

  4. Susan D says:

    And don’t the photos just echo the mood … truly a poignant beauty. Weekend plans changed here and I am a bit under this lovely weather … no energy and feeling puny. Sitting with mixed emotions and serving them tea. They’re very gracious, so far, and we have much to reflect upon. Thinking of you, Dear Lady ….

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, we should have gotten together and been melancholy together. Or we could have just sipped tea and let the tea be melancholy… **hope today is sunnier in your world**

  5. Thank you for a great post. You have expressed what I have been feeling this week much better than I could ever hope to.

  6. Susan Derozier says:

    Kathy – I want to “turn inward to the campfire of my soul” along with you. What a beautiful line! Your pictures refresh me and return me to my favorite time of year when living “up north.” How I miss autumn! Love the shot of your little coffee shop too with its autumn dressing of pumpkins and color. And thank you for our dear friend the deer against the tapestry of color. I understand perfectly what you describe in the melancholy of the season. A long sigh sent to you as I breathe in the beauty you share. Thinking of Barry with his line breaking the mirrored water.

  7. Marianne says:

    Beautiful photos, Kathy. Did you have a lovely time at the coffee shop? I quite enjoy the experience of a visit to the coffee shop although it’s been a while since I’ve had one. I think I’ll plan one for tomorrow morning.

    • Kathy says:

      I hope you enjoyed your time at the coffe shop, Marianne. I didn’t pause long there yesterday–only enough time to buy a cup of coffee and talk to the owner, Nikki, and then meet a guy who seemed to know all about Barry and me. except I didn’t know who he was. But then he mercifully revealed his name and it was very jolly. I enjoyed sipping the coffee driving home along the bay.

  8. What a wonderful post about Autumn and the seasons. I love the soft and calm feel of your photos–it gives the photo a slight melancholy feel, which is perfect! Love them! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. john says:

    Thank you for the sweet trip North. Speaking of bare trees when are we going to see some life come back to the Sentinal web site?.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, John. Glad you enjoyed the pics. I also have a handful of Lake Superior shots from the post-coffee shop visit. Asked Barry your question and he said the publisher has decided it’s getting too expensive to maintain. He’ll be posting a subscription form on the website, I believe. 🙂

  10. Brenda Hardie says:

    Kathy, you know just how to put feelings into words. This post was truly fitting for right now. The fall, the letting go, the melancholy. Your pictures are perfect for the mood and the season. I love the flash of vibrant orange and red, rich river colors, and the coffee shop pictures the best!
    Standing alongside you during this melancholy time…just sharing the moment by your side.

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, glad you enjoyed. It was odd to feel melancholy yesterday. I don’t usually feel that too much. By afternoon, the mood lifted and turned to something else…how quickly the leaves release and let go…

  11. Dawn says:

    I”ve been feeling that way too…hard to fight it, you are wise to let it wash over you and then away. I’m hoping for a beautiful fall, a beautiful winter and then a spectacular spring! But deep inside I”m not ready to let summer go yet. Not yet.

    • Kathy says:

      Smiling softly your way, Dawn, and understanding how you’re feeling. We have had mostly a week or more of rain (with an ocassional fifteen minute blast of sunlight). I am ready for sunshine. You too?

  12. Martha Bergin says:

    Thank you for the reminder. Melancholy had arrived sweetly in my life, too, today. A sort of reflective, personal accountability type of mood. But we don’t have autumn here–we’re just trying not to have 110 degrees, like we did on Thursday. Weather promises not over 104 this week. We shall see. So now I know why I’m feeling this way with you, because we are all interconnected anyway!

    • Kathy says:

      How can people have 104 degrees in the autumn???? Oh, dear Martha. I wish you temperatures in the 90’s very very soon. LOL. Not really LOL’ing, I think I would be melancholy with that heat, too. (P.S. agree with you about that interconnected thing, too.)

  13. Dawn says:

    Beautiful Kathy. Everything changes without our invitation or permission.
    How true.

    • Kathy says:

      Sometimes those changes are welcome, Dawn, other times not so much so… Byron Katie says “The Universe is always kind” even when it doesn’t look that way. I am pondering that.

  14. P.j. grath says:

    Reminders are converging on me today, and I need them all. Thanks, Kathy, for putting it so well. The fall color seems to have arrived (here, too, it begins) so suddenly, but why am I surprised?

    • Kathy says:

      Wonder why it often surprises us when the autumn colors arrive? I’m sure we’ve been (unconsciously perhaps) expecting them for weeks. I am so blown away–as always–by the vibrant beauty.

  15. bearyweather says:

    Since I still can not get out and about myself, thank you for taking me on a lovely and mellow Fall stroll through all the colors. Seems your trees are reaching their peak color ahead of ours. I love this time of year. I coffee would be nice. 😉

    • Kathy says:

      Bearyweather, I shall try to post more photos just for you this autumn. I wish I could bring you a cup of coffee, along with another hug… P.S. not all the trees around here are peak. There are plenty of still mostly-green areas. But everything is bursting.

  16. Dearest,

    That campfire? We are all there. The gathering you host here, exists in that fire glow also.
    It may feel lonely, but you are witnessed, my sweet.

    And I hold you in your melancholy.
    With my own.

    Tons of love and doing one new thing every single day- with you,

    • Kathy says:

      I love that you are doing one new thing every single day, and that we are all sitting by that campfire poking the embers and perhaps roasting some marshmallows. Suzi, are you hiding the chocolate? Let’s have some s’mores–should we put a yellow pepper on them? That would be new! LOL.

  17. Barb says:

    “To turn inward toward the campfire of our soul.” What a wonderful image this conjures, Kathy. To let go – to accept change is often a melancholy business. It seems that it should be easy to live in the moment, but it isn’t (for me). I keep bringing myself back to the present, but still find myself projecting either toward the future or rehashing the past when life is actually happening NOW. I love the landscape of the UP in fall – all those wonderful reds and oranges. The river shot is fabulous and that deer was posing for you.

    • Kathy says:

      I wonder if it’s easy for anyone to live in the moment, Barb. I know I’ve been actively trying since 2003 and sometimes–just sometimes–barely, just barely–seem to succeed. I am still hoping you get back to the UP one of these days. That would be fun. I would come and visit you and Mary in da Coppa Country.

  18. Sybil says:

    This post is so poetic Kathy.

    I was in the garden yesterday, happily pottering, when I consciously thought, “life is what happens whilst we are waiting for something special”.

    I think you are pretty good at “living in the moment” or are very aware of the need to do so.

    Melancholy is necessary part of life. Work through it. Observe it. Appreciate it, and know that its coming and going, makes the following joy, that much more special.


    • Kathy says:

      I love trying to live in the moment, Sybil, but it’s a moment-to-moment challenge because we can so easily be captured and IMPRISONED by our thoughts and fears and worries and doubts. Can’t we? I like your quote so much. It’s good to remember…consciously…a lot. To let melancholy be our friend and companion for an hour or day can be sweet, even though it’s, well, melancholy…

  19. Karma says:

    So beautifully poetic Kathy. Your descriptions are heartfelt, both actually and metaphorically. Count me as one of the ones letting summer go with indignant screaming.

  20. flandrumhill says:

    I believe that the more we appreciate the present when it’s here, the more willing we are to move on to the future. I’ll bet that beautiful deer could teach us a thing or two about living simply and making the most of today.

  21. Colleen says:

    Kathy, your thoughts on simplicity and presence are reaching out to me this morning. How it is less to do with possessions but rather the willingness to be totally present with what is in front of us. Today this doesn’t feel at all graceful, or easy, there is some not-so-lovely-inner-tantrum-throwing going on. Testing my willingness…..

    Absolute joy tinged with melancholy, this feels like a perfect description.

    • Kathy says:

      I think it’s true, Colleen, yes. But it’s not so easy with that inner-tantrum throwing. Yes. I know what you mean…wishing all of us less tantrum-throwing moments and more Presence.

  22. wolfsrosebud says:

    Oh ya… fall in the northern woods slowly seeping my way.

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