Autumnal Thoughts

Autumnal Thoughts September 28, 2023


JS says goodbye to ES for the final time
Joseph bids Emma farewell.
(Still photograph provided by James Jordan)


I love autumn, but it also depresses me.  I love it for the changing colors of the leaves (the reds and the oranges and the yellows and the yet-remaining shades of green) and the peaches and the nectarines and the fresh corn on the cob and the rich red tomatoes and the brisk, clear days and the blue skies.  But it saddens me because I know that winter is coming, that the glories of fall are transient.  I’m a southern California boy, and my idea of winter is blue skies with palm trees and a little less swimming plus the occasional desire for a sweater.  But that’s not what winter is like here in Utah Valley and, although there are obviously worse places to be during the winter season, I really dislike short days, early darkness, gray daytime skies, inversions, old and dirty snow, and barren trees.

That said, winter is never really as bad as I expect it to be.  It’s the anticipation of it, maybe the dread of it, that saddens me in prospect.  Indeed, there’s much to be said for certain aspects of it.  Fresh white snow on a clear blue day is gorgeous.  And then, of course, there’s Christmas.  And Christmas music.  And Thanksgiving — I know that it’s technically a fall holiday, but it forms a union in my mind with the big holiday that follows it –and Christmas gatherings with friends and family.  And Thanksgiving and Christmas foods.  And did I mention Christmas music?

After Christmas, though, and after the grossly inadequate and underwhelming New Year’s holiday, I’m really ready for winter to be gone. As Mr. Tumnus the faun tells Lucy, the White Witch “has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!”  But that’s pretty much what it’s like, in my opinion, in January and February and into March.

Nobody here cares much for this when I do it, but I’m going to share a favorite poem of mine anyway.  It’s “Herbstag” or “Autumn  Day,” by Rainer Maria Rilke.  By the way, the German word Herbst (autumn) is cognate with our English word harvest:

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gieb ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

And here is a rather loose and not entirely satisfactory translation of the poem by Guntram Deichsel:

Lord, it is time. Let the great summer go,
Lay your long shadows on the sundials,
And over harvest piles let the winds blow.

Command the last fruits to be ripe;
Grant them some other southern hour,
Urge them to completion, and with power
Drive final sweetness to the heavy grape.

Who’s homeless now, will for long stay alone.
No home will build his weary hands,
He’ll wake, read, write letters long to friends
And will the alleys up and down
Walk restlessly, when falling leaves dance.


Joseph says farewell to his kids in 6DIA
Joseph Smith says goodbye to his children, in a scene from “Six Days in August.”


My wife and I sat down last night and watched a video recording of Eric Huntsman’s 24 April 2023 lecture on “The Second Rome: The Beauty and Culture of Byzantium.”  He recorded it in connection with the Interpreter Foundation’s upcoming trip to Türkiye, and he did a very, very good job.  I recommend it for all those who will be coming with us to Türkiye, but also for those who have traveled there in the past or who hope to visit Türkiye in the future — and for those who may never get there at all.  It’s free, and it’s available on the website of the Interpreter Foundation.


Joseph leaves for Carthage, Illinois, in late June of 1844.


The Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™ focuses on evils involving religion and religious believers.  Here are some sample specimens of such evil:

Denver 7 (ABC):  “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Berthoud vandalized with anti-Mormon sentiments, phallic images”

9News:  “Northern Colorado church vandalized with anti-Mormon graffiti: Larimer County Sheriff’s Office investigators asked the community for information about the vandalism that occurred at a house of worship.”

CBS Colorado:  “Vandals target The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Berthoud with graffiti”

Fox 31 Denver:  “Mormon Church Vandalized”

Deseret News:  “Herriman police investigate break-ins at 22 Latter-day Saint churches”

Deseret News:  “3 more cities investigating string of Latter-day Saint church burglaries: Officer says the total damage from all of the recent break-ins is approximately $100,000”

How long must we endure such things?  When will religion and religious believers just go away, so that we can finally have some peace?

Imagine there’s no heaven.It’s easy if you try.No hell below us.Above us, only sky.
Imagine all the peopleLivin’ for today!
Imagine there’s no countries.It isn’t hard to do.Nothing to kill or die for.And no religion, too.
Imagine all the peopleLivin’ life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer,But I’m not the only one.I hope someday you’ll join us,And the world will be as one.

But the horrors to which I’ve linked above are small potatoes, relatively speaking.  There are some genuinely ghastly offenses against humanity contained in this 45-minute video from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Don’t try to watch it unless you’re sitting down, with smelling salts (and perhaps a cardiologist or an EMT) ready to hand:  “The October 2023 Edition of the World Report”

And, by all means, don’t forget this abomination:  “Saving Newborns and COVID Victims, One Breath at a Time: Thanks to a low-cost ventilation machine developed at BYU, infants in developing countries and other patients in need can keep breathing.”



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