Fall always leaves me pensive, nearly melancholy as I reflect. It is a time to notice the passing of time as though in stark contrast to simply absorbing sun and warmth of summer. The dancing through sunlight stops. The sudden change in temperature, in the leaves and grasses, and the knowing that tremendous cold is coming, calls to me like the bugler. That there is a coming of storm and ice and a very long cold, not to be escaped, hibernated through, but to be endured.
I know that there will be good things in all that time. The end of summer the hazy smoky autumn speaks to me in pictures.
This call to change, this sudden notice in of the weather. The winter is on my heals, herding me toward the barn. It is almost as though I am crowed into the required chamber with others to deal with the inward work we must do, much as we are crowed into the warm interior of a home because of a breaking storm. After the brave adventures and coveted stealing away onto warm meadows or still quiet places by trout pools, the loss of which is resented. Bigger and more powerful and over arching, the weather is a limiting factor of how we live our lives.
I know going inside is needed even wanted but I dread it too. I have to examine why.
I know I have not examined my thoughts or my heart or my habits. I bustle through days snarfing the uneaten cookie, staying away from the disorder in the garage, neglecting the mending and the needed exercise. I have been able to avoid it by the grand scope of being busy, much like having the great outdoors unfurled before me on a summer day. It comes replete with longer, warmer hours-- from an early twinkling dawn to the last sultry heat wave as velvety as the late night stars pulsing above. The endlessness of such a day is tangible. There seem to be no limits on the abundance of summer. I do not imagine myself alone in this idea. I see whole bundles of my fellow beings here: We can eat the whole loaf of bread and crunch through whole watermellons dripping with sticky sweet. We swim until we are too tired to and then sun bather until we are ready for iced lemonade. We turn from summersaulting down the green to whiling away the late afternoon in a book or a nap or a friendly face. Now really these moments are rare. We are usually racing from the grocery to the library to the next meal, the next chart, the next bill or meeting or project. The dirty socks and dishes and stacks of mail testify that our time is not spent at the golf course or at the beach. But the sense of it will not be erased nevertheless; the sense that we have no limits. There is the niggle that all this will end. We know it and ignore it because every moment must be opened and eaten and nothing wasted. We know we will want to walk away from the rind full and contented. When our summer feast is done there will only be drying orange peals and crumpled wax paper.
For some, yes too, there is the cold slap of reminders that this is not endless, that this is temporary, comes when someone leaves us suddenly; when a life is gone too soon; when it is us crying through the endless gray of grief. But still summer weaves the expectation of bounty, an expanse of doing and dreaming by turns.
So autumn leaves me wistful; fearing the empty cold, dreading the indoors. I know inside the coming months there is firelight and buttered popcorn and puzzles and laughter and snug contentment. I know there is the hush and wonder of blanketing snow and the magical brilliance of each flake and diamond dazzle of the new landscape. There is the forgiving white cover over ugly soggy dirty brown places and unpainted fences. The red and green twinkle of Christmas and the carols and rosy cheeks of children sledding or skating and sports tumble through the winter too... There is the struggle of lifting the torso onto the first snowman and the patchwork quilt and mug of steaming chocolate. Tucked in like a prize will be red and pink candy valentines and sugar cookies and spiced cider. There will be thin pink clouds of dawn and the projects of snow caves or contests for the longest ice-cycle, and the deer picking their way from gray copses of willow. There will be story telling and homework and winter will whirl away in the bustle of living like old leaves twisting off the side walk in the stiff wind. Spring will nibble away at the cold edges and brown patches will get bigger and the redeeming green will march out again. But will I still avoid the inside?
Will I see spring contented? Will I have managed to open myself to its newness renewed or still walking even racing blindly away from the inside of me? I do not fear the oncoming snow, but the dread is like heaps of after-feast dishes. Each one must be scraped and washed and polished and put on its' shelf. The end result is desired but the task is unavoidable to get there. And most of all, will I stop long enough to take the time? Will I stop long enough open the attic, lift the lid of the old treasure chest? Will I sort out old clothes, give away the relic, transfer the puzzle to the donations, and wipe the dust and clear the cobwebs of lost hopes? Dare I re-read the yellowing letters of diffferend days and right the up-ended dreams? Dare I face the task to really live? Ah, there! Now I have named the dread of weather change and winter.
(Oh, I will publish it. No one HAS to read it. But I will, and I will read it again later and remind myself.)