Going Dark

And just like that, it’s over. The shrieking voices, the jubilant splashes, the shrill drone of motor boats slicing through waves. The aroma of cut grass and grilled meat. That cacophony of sensations vanishes. Sometimes the door of summer is slammed shut and locked. The sun is consumed by gloom and the rains begin. Sometimes it’s gently closed, a gradual recession into darkness. This year it’s left ajar. The sunshine persists. The rains, when they come, are warm. The forest seems unsure how to act. Where are the bright reds that are usually the first to appear? Instead, the aspens are the first to draw inward. Their leaves brown and wither and are cast off.

September is for us, is what the locals say. There’s always one last. One last barbecue, one last swim in the lake, one last sunset at Sturgeon Bay. For me, it’s not one last, but one more. I savor my final long hikes, mesmerized by the rasp of dead leaves under my feet. What a privilege it is to live here.

It is time to go dark, fall silent, immerse myself in the beautiful melancholy of my beloved autumn. Season of surrender, hard truths, letting go. Of relentless remembrance. I draw my light inward. I wander through the many chambers of my heart, switching off the lights and shutting doors in some, so that it can glow brighter in others. The levels of access are now clearly defined. Those who aren’t already in the innermost realms have little chance of getting in.

The bronze-tinted sunlight of Indian Summer contrasts with the inky black fog that seeps into my being. Tread gently here, little one. You’ve navigated this dark realm so many times before. The pain just means that your heart is alive. Ride it out. Breathe. Allow yourself to grieve.

Remember: the way a person treats you is a reflection of that individual, not you. Remember this. Again and again. Until the light illuminates the abyss and you find your way out again.

Remember: we carry everything within us: past, present, future. Do the lessons we go through truly make us stronger, or is that what we tell ourselves so that we keep going? Memories are constant companions tripping us up, holding us back, but also urging us on. Remember the pain so that you don’t allow it to happen ever again. Remember, then let go. Move into the now. Move on.

Turn towards the future. Envision, crystallize. In order to get what you deserve, you need to believe that it exists. You’ve done it before. Look at this place you call home. You knew, many years ago, that you would have this little cabin. Become the solitary woman in the wilderness. The shy black rabbit who now shares your life appeared in your dreams, remember? Her garnet-colored eyes and shimmering blue-black fur. Raven. You recognized her immediately.

Grand accomplishments and little details. I deserve this and so much more.

I lie in bed at night and gaze out the window. Where once I saw fireflies dance and lightning flash, stars glitter through naked branches. When you let go, Heaven shines through. I burrow deep under the covers. Thoughts flow through my mind.

A flashback to Prague. It was spring. I was walking home from the Smichov metro station after work. One of those episodes I sometimes get, dare I call them visions, took hold. I was in a crowd of shadows, interspersed with rare lights. Some shined bright and clear. Others were intermittent and some were dim. I was one of the lights. And I understood. Some of us are beacons. Not for the shadows, but for each other. To reassure each other that we’re not alone.

Those of us who come into existence with a gift have some obligation to share it. I have fulfilled that contract. Now I long for deeper realms of silence.

The majority my days are spent deflecting chatter. Everyone has returned to work. I am pleasant, but distant. No one notices. How easy it is to slip away from invitations and conversations. The sharing of memes and videos and articles. Something called TikTok is what’s cool now, I’m told. Here, Julie, look at this funny video. A polite glance and a stifled grimace, as the broadcast of desperation unfolds on the tiny screen.

So many empty souls clamoring to be seen, but terrified to look in the mirror. Oblivious to the technological wasteland in which they are imprisoned. The person who most needs to see you is your Self. The point of looking in the mirror is not to see the good or the bad, but to see the truth. It’s never too late to reclaim yourself. Don’t be afraid.

October. The deer go into hiding. Camo-clad humans lumber through the woods. I send a prayer out to the young buck and the little sister he watches over. They are frequent visitors to Ravenwood. It got to the point where they stopped fleeing when they saw me. The last time we saw each other, he approached me, tail and ears twitching with curiosity. I stood very still and smiled until his instinct took over and they bounded away. Together. Always together.

I clothe myself in orange and stick to well-used trails or my brother Grant’s vast property. At least one bear calls his land home. A mischievous smile lights up my face as I remember the immense blackberry patch I stumbled into while hiking last summer. I was greeted by a meaty gasp, shuddering bushes, and the retreat of a massive body. It was either Bigfoot or a bear that I had just startled. “Sorry,” I called out with a giggle, not even surprised at my complete lack of fear.

But that doesn’t mean I want to sneak up on one again. I clap my hands and sing as I sweep my eyes over the trees, searching for autumn treasure. A lump forms in my throat when I find it. A careful extraction from the bark, leaving some behind for next year. I stroll back to my car, my heart aglow.

Weeks after the official peak, after the leaf peepers from Ohio and other southern territories have gone home, the show begins.

Forest ablaze in a controlled burn. Leaves drift to the ground like embers. And now a cold wind stirs the ashes of brighter days. Summer’s butterfly flutter becomes autumn’s phoenix. It spreads its wings and ascends.

66 thoughts on “Going Dark

  1. What a gorgeous post Julie. I love how you described autumn as your season to go within and reflect. And what a grand show you’re having up there. I don’t think we’re getting a “controlled burn” this year. I appreciate you and your writing. Thanks for sharing your musings and soul.

  2. “I wander through the many chambers of my heart, switching off the lights and shutting doors in some, so that it can glow brighter in others.”

    Such a wonderful image! As always, your prose fills me with delight. Enjoy the quiet of fall and winter. 🍁 ❄️

  3. You said, “Turn towards the future. Envision, crystallize. In order to get what you deserve, you need to believe that it exists.” This is beautiful! I am trying so hard to remember this every day.

    You also said, “Those of us who come into existence with a gift have some obligation to share it.” I love the simple beauty of this sentence, even though it’s a reminder of a core challenge in my life.

    Thank you for this lovely piece!

    • It is not always easy to remember that so much is possible. And there’s a fine line between envisioning and wanting something too much.
      Happy autumn to you.🙂

  4. Thank you very much, dear Julie, for showing us once again the various points of live enshrouded in most beautiful autumn dress!:) In fact, I wanted to mention the following sentence, which touched me particularly:
    “I wander through the many chambers of my heart, switching off the lights and shutting doors in some, so that it can glow brighter in others. ”
    In the meantime I have seen that John has also felt very special emotions by it.
    Enjoy your silence!

    • Thank you, Martina.💖 I feel it’s important to shine our light only for those who can accept and appreciate it. Wishing you a magnificent autumn.

      • Very much so, Julie!:) I have written down these words, so I won’t forget them!
        Look to this day:
        For it is life, the very life of life.
        In its brief course
        Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
        The bliss of growth,
        the glory of action,
        the splendor of achievement
        Are but experiences of time.
        For yesterday is but a dream
        And tomorrow is only a vision:
        And today well-lived, makes
        Yesterday a dream of happiness
        And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
        Look well therefore to this day:
        Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn.
        This poem was by the indian poet Kalidasa.
        Best wishes Martina

  5. Beautiful And Captivating writing, Julie!
    Was just recently thinking of you and this popped up in my email.
    Hope you are well ❤

    • Hey Amy! How funny that you also came to mind today. I passed B May on my way to State Park and I wondered if you still work there. Hope all is well with you, too, dear.💖

  6. HI Julie, this is such a beautiful post. Your words about memories and pain holdings us back sometimes are true. We need to let go and move on past the unpleasant things in life. Thank you for those words, they are very helpful. Your pictures are lovely and colourful.

  7. A gorgeous post, Julie, the revolution of the season so beautifully mirrored in the heart. One of your photos (the dark one with the yellow leaves) looked like a cathedral’s stained glass, and that sacredness carried through your whole post. “The person who most needs to see you is your Self.” Wisdom and reflection. You always leave me feeling serene. ❤

  8. Julie your writing is exquisite, thought provoking and your pictures adding so much beauty to an already beautiful post. Your words so resonated with me, “Memories are constant companions tripping us up, holding us back, but also urging us on.” All you said was so true with each season giving us an opportunity to let go, go within and rediscover who we are. Thank you 💚

  9. In Bezos letters to Amazon’s shareholders, one of the mindsets he insists on is that each day should be a “Day 1”, to take risks as if the enterprise could just disappear; he says Day 2 feels like complacency and fear of losing what we have. Internet had this raw wild nature, a chaotic Day 1 with unlabeled creativity, new voices and strange experiments; today we are in a Day 2, etiquettes, “correct” ideas and creativity is mostly whatever tools multi-million dollar corporations choose to give us. Years ago when I used Facebook a way to rebel was using emojis like :v :T D: to bypass the automatic emoticons. I understand why do you feel like that in reference to modern memes, Tik Tok, hyperlinks and likes; all that is a Day 2 of safety, and you live in a Day 1.
    I think I wrote it before, that if a sunlight had consciousness it would perceive the moment of its origin, the eight minutes of its travel from the sun to the eye of an observer on Earth, and its final absorption in the eye as a simultaneous happening. I find marvelous that you perceive normally present, past and future as something we carry inside us: as it usually something felt unnormally mostly in moments of fear as imminence or doom; even in visions you feel how close you are to light.
    And well, so many reflections about what you shared with us, amiga; in your kaleidoscopic memories, feelings intertwined through secret bonds through different times. So instead of prolonging an already too long comment I will wish you a wonderful Autumn.

    • I enjoy your in-depth comments, Francis. Your Facebook emoji rebellion is funny. Very interesting idea from Bezos, and I hesitate to compliment that individual. I’ve mostly been in Day 1, but very recently I realized that I’ve also somewhat been in Day 2 with WordPress, holding on to the security, believing I must remain or I will lose everything for my writing. But Day 1 is on the horizon again. 🙂
      Wishing you a beautiful spring, amigo!

      • Day 1 from you sounds wonderful, a new sunrise.I share your caution about living individuals. Books are ideal abstractions one have to be careful to not mistaken with reality/life. Thank you, amiga : )

  10. Hello dear Julie,
    I think I really needed this message today, and your post came at the perfect time. Much has already been commented on, but let me say that this post resonated with me deeply. Thank you for sharing and Happy Autumn to you, my friend.

    Best wishes from Japan (where autumn has also arrived),
    Takami

  11. Another year – where do they go. I envy your isolation and the fine autumnal landscape – excellent images – what is the ‘autumn treasure’ – it’s spectacular. Your words remind me of Robert MacFarlane’s quote – “We are fallen in mostly broken pieces, but the wild can still return us to ourselves”. Al the best, R

    • The autumn treasure is called lion’s mane mushroom. It tastes like lobster and is very good for the brain.

      Love that quote. Thank you, Robin.

  12. In a flip-flopping of the usual seasonal themes, I always have a sense of renewal in the fall as I turn inward. (My guess is that for so many years, autumn was when I got my own life back when the kids returned to school.) In any case, I do understand the silencing and the darkness, and I both relish and resist them. On a lighter note, I love your new bunny, and the photos are beautiful!

    • I also feel a sense of renewal this time of year, a casting off of burdens. Raven is a perfect addition to Ravenwood.🙂 She didn’t have a good start in life – I adopted her from the pound – but I’m trying to make up for that. Happy Autumn to you, Lexie.

  13. Beautiful, beautiful, post, Julie. Where many feel the sadness of summer leaving, there are those of us who relish in the fiery beauty of autumn ~ silent and to ourselves. It seems the perfect time to exhale, reflect on the year, and of course smile. Perfect timing of your post. Czech had the coldest October in more than a century, but there were those days with sunshine and, of course, the colors that made every hike something special. As with you, I don’t worry about the hike or other pieces of nature being the last one of the year, but on the happiness of being able to do it one more time. I really liked this description ~ works for so many different areas in life as well, the privilege of just being there is worth everything.

    And I’ll make it three in regards to what may be the most beautiful sentence I have read this year: “I wander through the many chambers of my heart, switching off the lights and shutting doors in some, so that it can glow brighter in others.” Sigh, yes a perfect description of moving into the deeper recesses of autumn and the cold that will sweep in ~ as uncomfortable as it may be, it is nourishing as well. Take care, and enjoy your fleeting days of autumn 🙂

    • Your comment made me realize the power of “one more” in the grand scheme of things. We have both entered the autumn of our lives, when it’s uncertain how long we will be able feel/experience certain things. And maybe “one last” has already passed. That makes them even more precious, and, yes, a privilege.

      Sounds like you’ve made the best of the cold autumn. I know how that is. Snow usually makes its first appearance here around mid-October. We were lucky this year. 🙂 We’re supposed to have some this weekend. I must say that I’m looking forward to watching it fall outside my window. My cabin is unbelievably cozy. 🙂 You take care, too, my friend. Warmest wishes.

  14. We like autumn and winter best of all the seasons. The cold produces clarity and we love cold weather, well, real weather. Then the sea is rough and tourists are gone. For us, this is the time for ‘hygge’ (cosiness) and for reflecting on life, reading and having interesting talks in front of the open fire.
    Thanks for sharing and all the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  15. As I read your words, Julie, I asked just how many truly understand what you are saying? I felt your heart and your Spirit in every word and at times tears collected in my eyes. As you pointed out, technology is doing its very best to steal the soul and life from so many. My latest post (today) I wrote about how people that I saw actually chose to unplug (no earbuds) and were talking and laughing with one another. To SEE this and then to speak to people who are as done with the box that entices, brings such HOPE and JOY to my heart!! I LOVE your photos as I “feel” the Divine in each one. As you I have withdrawn from the narrative and am living in such a way that now I flow every day learning to create in ways that are miraculous. I too have been immersed in the Fall colors that are still confusing. The bright reds as you pointed out were not evident yet much gold and yellow were and still are. Many trees just dropped their leaves and in examining those black spots were seen on them. Blessed are the trees who have surrendered to take the toxins from the air. Do people understand how Sacred they are?

    If you have time, please read my last post to encourage you that people are really changing. I’d like to think perhaps it has been my example at my gym that I do not carry a cell nor am I plugged in any way. My message all these months ….. WAKE UP and SEE one another!! They are!!! Glory BE! Others, the stubborn lot, won’t see for anything and those I leave alone. They have made their choice and I mine!! Love you, dear One. New Earth is truly birthing!!! xoxoxoxo

    • Hello dear Amy. I actually read your latest post before I read your comment. 😊I’ve read all of your recent posts, though I didn’t always make my presence known. It’s a new way of reading blogs, just letting words and images sink in without adding my voice to the creation. I’m in the process of rethinking my relationship with the internet. Big changes are afoot. 😉 Like you, I’ve noticed that some are turning away from tech and actually communicating again. It is so good to witness. And yet there are still many who aren’t able to understand how ensnared they are. Despite the darkness we’ve had to traverse, we are the lucky ones. Love back at you, my friend.💖

      • Aw, Julie, my Soul Sister. SMILE!!! It’s not getting any easier to sit here to reply to comments. I want to experience life even if that means laying on the couch with my Sassy watching a movie or reading a book or just closing my eyes and drifting off. I NEVER put my cell on anymore ….. I am DONE! I normally do not leave long comments much lately but with you it’s different. The words just pour forth. Like now. LOL Anyways …… SO MUCH LOVE!!! Yes big changes are happening with me NOW. xoxoxoxoxo

  16. This was such a delight to read. I am so moved by the truth in your writing. Beautiful imagery, and always the truth. It felt like the door to summer here in Vancouver was slammed shut this year, the rains came, fall seemed to happen so quickly that I could hardly take it in – no sunny days to explore the best places for the slow fiery burn of Autumn. The rains came and haven’t stopped since. But it’s never one last for me, always one more. I still hike in my beloved forest every day smothered in rain gear but so alive with the freedom and fresh air. It’s my time to explore all the deepest chambers of my heart, determined to explore them all, until I realize it’s all nonsense. Not in a bad way, just ultimately not that important, not the deepest truth. I do love your whole paragraph about the chambers of your heart – beautifully expressed. Also the reminder that when people judge you it’s about them not me.
    I love your cottage!
    Wishing you much peace for the blanket of winter.
    Much love
    Alison

    • These days it’s not easy to discern who is wearing a mask and who isn’t, especially online. I want to be one of the true ones.
      Autumn is the best time to dive deep into the heart’s chambers. It’s like the truth becomes clearer, even in the rain. Or maybe especially in the rain. 🙂

      Warmest wishes to you, Alison.

  17. Every summer we would go to the same place in the Alps and, every summer, we’d leave come September. There’s a sense of sadness when that month comes around, a sense of something endless actually coming to an end… As I read your post it brought me back to that time. Thanks for the journey through space and time!

  18. Ah!! So deeply contented to see we are both becoming a part of the woods we love so much.
    “Some of us are beacons. Not for the shadows, but for each other. To reassure each other that we’re not alone.” How true this has been for me when it comes to you and your writing. I hope I can be the same to anyone else out there. Enjoy the silence and coming beauty of winter. ❤️

    • You most certainly are a beacon, dear. Bright and clear. And it’s an honor that you consider my writing a light for you. Yes, I am merging deeper with the wilderness. I thought of you when I added the mushroom photo to this post. You might recognize lion’s mane? Though I’m not sure it grows in your area.
      May the rest of your autumn be filled with serenity.💖

  19. I adore this Julie. It expresses in an exquisite way, all the things I love about this season – and some of the things I fear. That process of ‘going dark’ is what I love about this time of year, when I can feel the most like me, though as you point out, that process isn’t always easy.

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