Is the Woods Is?

The woods is shining this morning.
Red, gold and green, the leaves
lie on the ground, or fall,
or hang full of light in the air still.
– From “Grace” by Wendell Berry

The woods is shining?

There it is again, that whole thing about collective nouns — Is they singular or are it plural? — but if we can just set that aside for a moment, I think we can agree that Wendell is onto something(s) here. At this time of year, the woods does/do shine and the leaves hang/hangs full of light, as we saw on a trip across the river to Gatineau Park, home of Kingsmere, several outlooks, and some nearer vistas.

4-photo collage of fall colours at Mackenzie King Estate

3-photo collage of Gatineau Park in autumn colours

3-photo collage of fall colours in Gatineau Park


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8 Responses to Is the Woods Is?

  1. Tom Watson says:

    They sure is!

  2. These images are lush or arresting but the landscape makes me realize how “painterly” my aesthetic has become: those pink and lavender ice-cream castles in the air juxtapose the delicate French Impressionists with the dashing Group of Seven when never the twain should meet. Yet, what could be more glorious on a fall day than the scene you have captured? I wonder how often I fail to appreciate the reality I am facing because some silly predisposition is preventing me? An example might be that chunk of rock that you took the trouble to notice for its inherent beauty. You have provided much to ponder — as usual!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – As always, a singular perspective. 🙂 Thank you! I know so little about art that these conflicting juxtapositions don’t occur to me. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could wander for a day with someone else’s eyes and point of view?

  3. Marilyn Smith says:

    Thank you for introducing me to the work of Wendell Berry, Isabel! This poem, “Grace” (c. 1967), and the question of “is” brought to mind Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (written c. 1923) — “Whose woods these are I think I know….The woods are lovely, dark and deep….”. Either way, the words and images are beautiful and thought-provoking. As are the photos!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marilyn – Glad you like him (and the photos)! Check out The Dance – one of the poems I was motivated to commit to memory, but could not find a way to work into this piece . . . 🙂 And thanks for reminding me of Frost’s poem, in which the woods are emphatically plural. I see a research topic looming . . .

  4. Jim Taylor says:

    But you’ll notice that Berry did not say, “The leaves/lies on the ground…” so he does know the difference between singular and plural.
    At the same time, I love the idea that the leaves “hang full of light.” We have a Japanese red-leaf maple outside my office window, and when the morning sun coming shining through those leaves, it’s as if all the earth were aflame. (I stole that line, but I don’t know from whom.)

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