A Certain, Lovely Ghostliness


There is more poetry in autumn than summer, it would seem. Traveling from the congested highways of an overcrowded Commonwealth to the quiet shorelines of a Maine lake proves as much.

Last night we arrived to high winds and whitecaps. This morning I arise to clear, Canadian air, sun, calm. That coupled with the possibility and hope that comprises every dawn if you wake and look for it.

Maine lakes in autumn are a different animal than their summer counterparts. For one, the vacationers have returned home to their jobs and their schools. The buzz of boats and jet skis has gone, as have the screams of swimming children, the voices from up shore and down.

Today, traffic on the lake, this early on, consists of the sun’s reflection and a pair of loons.

It’s human nature to say the loons’ appearance is personal. A postcard for me. As is the soft wind high in the pine tops. And the chickadees’ back-and-forth. All an antidote for any blues coloring the spirit.

The neighboring camps on either side? Empty. Though they are not closed and shuttered for the season, they seem circumspect, lips sealed out of deference to me.

I expected some leaves to be in the early stages of fall color, but no. Still green, celebrating their false summer born of our recent warmth and humidity.

Thoreau would like this, I think. The lake in autumn, after all, looks much like it would in his century. Or any younger, more innocent century, for that matter. Any time you find a vista that can make that claim, you’re in a good spot. Far from the madding media.

But Thoreau was not one to stay in one place, either. He was a restless spirit, a walking botanist, a bridegroom to changing trails, hills, and outlooks.

That’s OK, though. Details like this never get in the way of capital-R Romantic delusions. Those are like deep breaths of cool air, those metaphors for a life lighthearted. They can even be found here in the cabin, in rooms still crowded with the ghosts of loved ones from the summer months.

I once wrote in a poem about such loud silences — how they’re like a school playground in early summer, empty yet still reverberating with the echoes of their youthful essence.

Yes. Like so. A certain, lovely ghostliness. Something both spiritual and reflective like a poem. A poem like all unwritten poems. The laughing and elusive one, waiting to be captured and translated, forged from ethereal to real.