Saturday, October 3, 2009
III - 秋
中秋 is my one of favourite festival of all chinese festivals.
A long time ago, my family would gather at my Ah gong's house every中秋. So much noise, merriment and childhood fun was had running around his frontyard, lantern in hand, facsinated yet afraid of the candles and nervously writing glow letters with fizzing sparklers while the "grown up people" sat and drank tea.
My grandfather died the year I turned 18 and the celebrations stopped then but every year I look up at the fat smiling moon and take a minute to remember him and indulge in nostalgia for times past.
Autumn is a time for harvest, for gathering the fruit of what we've sown and for watching the world flame with colour - orange, sienna, gold, red, vermilion against grapy sunsets of dusky purple-red clouds. It's a time like no other, to celebrate colour and life, a time to enjoy the fruit of summer's labour.
But also a time for taking stock: looking at the seasons past,weighing to see if it has been time well spent, if the work done in summer was good, was enough.
A good time then,to remind myself of the importance of discipline and work. The fruits of autumn may only be gathered by those diligent in the Spring and Summer and so the musical and dance lessons and practice times must be strictly kept, the studies must must get done and in general, one's nose must be kept to the grindstone.
A poem by Su Shi below, reminding us of the preciousness of this moment where life is good and the moonlight floods the sleeping world.
Then Keats on the ripe summer spilling into a bountiful, rich autumn - autumn in cahoots with the gentle old sun to bring abundance into the world.
Finally, my favourite version of this jazz standard so far - listened to 5 of 'em before posting up this one. Go youtube the Nat King Cole, Eva Cassidy and Keith Jarrett ones too but Stan Getz stole my heart with his melancholic unadorned walk through "Autumn Leaves". Richness without fanfare,simplicity with shaded emotion. Lovely.
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells."
- John Keats, To Autumn