All the shades of fall

September 24, 2010

It’s officially fall and suddenly, the sun’s begun to come up later. When did that happen?

I sleep longer and better in the now later hours of the predawn darkness and so does the dog in his bed at the foot of ours. There’s a chill in the air most days and leaves on the smaller trees are already beginning to turn red.

Fall is a season of dying. Just as the spring’s rebirth gave way to the full bloom of summer, those hot, sultry summer days are fading yet again, as we prepare for the grey clouds of winter. And here: winter rain.

Fall is a poignant season for me, a little sad, filled with memories of lives I’ve left behind: raking leaves as a child, the smell of bonfires, watching trees become barren around our upstate New York home. A family Thanksgiving full of laughter and love. A long ride in the fall air with the Killers on the CD player. The expectation of snowy and cold weather soon.

Despite football season and the start of a new school year, fall has always felt like a season of looming loss. In fall we waited for winter, the season of death, and for the snow that would bury the prior year’s events.

Even so, I love the autumn. Days seem almost golden against the deep blue sky, in a cool, crisp, sweater-wearing way. The gorgeous hues of the leaves, in some places entire riots of color, carpet the ground.

I am thinking today of Thanksgiving in Colorado with colorful, mismatched plates, horses, dogs, wine and good friends against the bright shimmer of quaking aspen trees in the fall. Gorgeous.

Fall makes a crunchy, dry leaves-beneath-leather boot heels sound. Leather boots worn with tights to accent a wool skirt. Hunter green, charcoal and deep purple sweaters.

Fall is also earth-colored: the orange and brown of pumpkins and Thanksgiving turkeys that will soon give way to the red and green of the Christmas season.

We’re into the last quarter of the year, just about, and getting ready to wipe the slate clean and start again. It’s time to look back at where we’ve been and ask ourselves if it pleases us.

And if not, what we might do differently.

In a sense, the autumn tells us by example that we can die to our old ways and re-birth ourselves in a new way, just as nature does, year after year after year.

If we dare.

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