Rosehips, cones and golden leaves: a legacy of loveliness

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 28, 2017

A rosehip, some pine cones and a treasure of golden leaves celebrated the return of autumn in the Sacred Garden at St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane.
Photos by Warren Harbeck

A visit this week with Marlis McDouall filled me once more with awe over autumn’s return.

Marlis has been our coffee companion and my mentor in German language and things beautiful almost since I started writing these columns. Our conversation this time began with the saying, “Gute Menschen fördern einander ohne es zu wissen” (“Good people encourage each other without knowing it”). And before we knew it, we were into an encouraging conversation about how the arrival of fall fills us with mixed emotions.

“Summer goes out with such a rainbow of colours each year that makes us melancholy and hopeful at the same time,” Marlis said. “We know the ease and abundance of summer is gone and it heralds the entrance to a darker, quieter, more challenging season for all living things. At the same time, it conveys hope of eventual renewal and rebirth as it asks us for trust and patience.”

Indulging in a moment of nostalgia over her childhood days in Germany, she recalled the acorns, beechnuts, mushrooms, and especially the polished chestnuts which they’d use for games and necklaces.

Returning to our own heritage here in the Alberta foothills, she spoke of how pine cones “can be examples of how to survive the harsh winter months with grace and beauty.”

This got us thinking about other natural gifts of the season that also speak of grace and beauty, trust and patience. There were the ever-welcome rosehips, of course, fruit of glorious summers that speak of hope beyond life’s winters. But even more obvious was the treasure of leaves that crown the land with gold and lay their wealth at our feet.

As one image after another filled our imaginations, I knew just the place I had to go with my camera that very day: the Sacred Garden at St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane. And sure enough, my lens was not disappointed.

After creating the accompanying photo-collage, I emailed it to Marlis for her reaction. She responded with a poem she had written inspired by last fall’s visit:

Summer’s shades of green have
Given way to gold and brown.
Autumn stole away the glory,
Claiming for herself the crown.

Thank you, Marlis. Your sensitivity to beauty has proven the point of this week’s German lesson. Indeed, the season itself is blessing the world with its legacy of loveliness to encourage us along life’s way.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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