Autumn has announced its intention to take over our days and nights, soon. A cold front blew into Maryland yesterday, bringing with it the kind of crystal clear skies that give vivid reminder to how much pollution we live with normally. Last evening, the sunset was a shockingly peaceful event with pink dabs of color on the extended, downward waves of the upper clouds and a large, clear opening near the ground that demanded close attention for its clarity and stillness. The sky to the east turned a solid, blurred pink across the heavy clouds, an echo of the sunset in the west. Of course, most did not notice. Too busy with life to feel it, to take it in full and allow a moment of contemplation.
There is a sadness about the fall that eludes the sly, soon to be broken promises of spring. We know what is coming now and we know when it gets here there will be no mistaking it. Cold wrapped in cloudy days followed by the threat of snow and ice. Of course, we are in the mild section where winter is not, most of the time, a deadly threat. I can only imagine how this season must feel in parts of Maine or in the depths of Canada where they know winter much more than warmth. Winter is serious business in those places, winter is the time when life becomes more real than we wanted it to be and demands care and awareness in everything there is to be done.
To live in places like southern California or Florida is to live without the knowledge of death. Seasons flow one into another there, rather than jump and jive to awaken the sleepy mind. Perhaps this is why they worship that which cannot be in California, eternal youth, beauty and possibility. It is a lovely illusion, one which, after a time, must be as tiresome as a shoe with a hole in the bottom. Still, for moments, one can drink in that dream without getting sick in the process.
Perhaps there is to be another week, even three or four, of mildly warm days, but fall will be back in force. After a few cold nights, the leaves will turn whatever color the weather of this past summer dictates, whether it is the multicolor display to delight old ladies and young lovers or merely a softer blend of browns and vague reds, it will happen. The leaves hang on for a long time. Hundreds come falling down over weeks then, in one or two days when there is a strong wind and cold air, the rest give up and give fly. To those not paying attention, it will appear to have happened all at once. Where did our summer go?, they will ask themselves.
Fall can only be portentous, because it speaks of winter. It is, nonetheless, a little break before the heavy stuff and for that we are, or should be, grateful. We donít know what winter might bring, whether it will be the laden, leaden winter of massive snows or just a few with only inches to show for all the cold. We are not ready. We are not prepared. We still need summer, just a bit more, just a bit longer, but we have to take what is offered, like it or not. There is great beauty in this passing of seasons, if we care to notice.
Doug Terry, 9.16.11