“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” ~
Since 1969, I have spent every fall day, every Autumn, indoors, either as a student or as a teacher, or as a busy mom of three, trying to catch up each Saturday all the laundry, housework, and food preparation one week might require. And every year I found fall dark, depressing and sad. It marked the end of golden, lazy summer; everything died and the cold seemed to seep too quickly into my bones and heart and make me so tired I longed to hibernate with the wild things. Fall was my least favorite season.
My retirement began last year on November 1. This year I have spent time outside every day, intentionally observing and embracing Autumn. I have witnessed leaves turn golden, amber, ginger and chocolate, and flutter to the ground in the breezes and gusts that warm us still, from south and west, and are beginning to cool us, from north and east. I have listened to the squirrels chatter and chuckle, scrambling up and down trees, building nests and gathering nuts. I have observed the birds chirping and twittering as they, like the squirrels, prepare for the coming cold, the smaller ones leaping excitedly from branch to branch in the trees while the large, lazy turkey buzzards and sharp-eyed hawks ride warm thermal currents, circling ever higher into the clear sunshine against the not quite summer-blue sky. With the cooling night temperatures I notice morning fog hovering over the still-warm lake while I drink my tea and allow the dogs to frisk in the chilly dawn and snuffle in the crispy leaves. Those leaves produce a certain acrid odor that tells me somewhere nearby is a neighbor who has diligently raked his fallen leaves and burned them, his yard all neat and tidy in preparation for shortening days, an odor that evokes memories of doing the same with my family many years ago at my childhood home.
Now that I have this time for reflection, and long morning, mid-day and evening strolls, I realize it wasn’t fall so much that I disliked – it was going inside, losing the freedom of summer, becoming disconnected from the Earth, the trees, the animals of the woods. It was less sunshine, less wind in my face, less feeling the pace of Nature. Indoors, my pace was artificial, the lights artificial, the urgency artificial. Inside provided warmth and comfort on a cold night, to be sure, but inside lacked the authentic richness of connection to this colorful, mature, ripening, burgeoning season of harvest.
College football, scarves, sweaters, boots, crysanthemums, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, fires in the fireplace, fall festivals, crockpot suppers, warm cider and pumpkin spice everything bring their own joys. But this year, hope comes up each day with the sun, instead of counting days to the weekend, or the next holiday break, or next summer. Peace grins from carved pumpkins, honks from flocks of geese on the lake, and turns over for a season of rest in the fallow fields that I pass daily. And the seasonal light sets the sky on fire each morning and evening, with the most gorgeous hues of lavender and apricot.
Fall just may be my favorite season!
Wishing you all the blessings of Autumn…