A Small Bud

I see the signs: A little bit of mist in the morning air. The turning of the sumac along the roadsides. The first leaves falling golden from the flowering crab next to our deck.

Autumn is coming. My time of year.

The Texas Gal and I talked about the seasons the other day as we lazed in the living room. She likes the spring, she said, when everything is green and new and possible. It’s a sweet time, she said.

I told her what she already knew, that to me autumn is bittersweet, and for as long as I can remember, bittersweet has been my default. It’s colored what I read and what I write, what I sing and what I hear, and – for many of the years of my life – what I felt and how I lived.

I no longer feel or live that way, thanks to the Texas Gal’s presence in my life for these past eighteen-plus years. But I still feel the pull of the bittersweet in literature, movies, television and song, sensing that tales of joyous but ultimately failed pairings and of barely missed chances that rarely resolve well are somehow more interesting and more valid to me than easy happy endings.

And I wonder where that sense came from. Was I formed by the art of my youth, when tales – whether in print, on the screen or on the radio – did not always end with smiles? Two examples come to mind quickly: Kirk Douglas’ crucified Spartacus watching his wife and child being taken to safety on the road outside Rome as he was dying. And then there’s the Association’s “Cherish,” a song that’s been mentioned here numerous times. Let’s take a refresher on Terry Kirkman’s lyric:

Cherish is the word I use to describe
All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could
Mold you into someone who could
Cherish me as much as I cherish you

Perish is the word that more than applies
To the hope in my heart each time I realize
That I am not gonna be the one to share your dreams
That I am not gonna be the one to share your schemes
That I am not gonna be the one to share what
Seems to be the life that you could
Cherish as much as I do yours

Oh, I’m beginning to think that man has never found
The words that could make you want me
That have the right amount of letters, just the right sound
That could make you hear, make you see
That you are drivin’ me out of my mind

Oh, I could say I need you but then you’d realize
That I want you just like a thousand other guys
Who’d say they loved you
With all the rest of their lies
When all they wanted was to touch your face, your hands
And gaze into your eyes

Cherish is the word I use to describe
All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could
Mold you into someone who could
Cherish me as much as I cherish you

And I do cherish you
And I do cherish you

Cherish is the word

Anything that potent tends to throw discussion off-track, but anyway, I don’t think I project melancholy to the world. I’m pretty gregarious, quick with a joke (but not to light up your smoke), and all that. So where did that tinge of sorrow – the bitter that leavens the joy – come from? From those books, films and records of my youth? Or did those bits of media somehow validate feelings already present, feelings sown by frequently being the ninth boy at an eight-boy game and by the regretful smiles of a fair number of lovely young women?

I have no firm answers to those questions. How each of our personalities is molded is a riddle. All I know is that an important portion of me is the one that begins to bud right around the end of August and then flowers during the last weeks of September and the first weeks of October

And I feel that small bud forming inside me this week. My time of year is coming.

Here’s “Autumn Brigade” by the English group Jackson Heights. It’s from the group’s 1972 album The Fifth Avenue Bus.

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One Response to “A Small Bud”

  1. jb says:

    Cosigned. Agreed. Yup.

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