Carol Jane Remsburg
In Anticipation of Autumn
When I was a kid I couldn't wait for school to end for the year and summer vacation to begin. The world became a kaleidoscope of visits to grandma's house and fishing expeditions, camping on the weekends, carnivals and bike rides. There were backyard barbecues and stories by the campfire. The days were steamy and the nights sweaty and twilight became alive with mosquitoes and laughter. If you'd have asked me as a kid what season I thought was the best I would have unhesitatingly replied: "summer." By mid-August all the fun and adventure began to pall. Something else had replaced the attraction of summer. It was that magnetic, magical pull of autumn.
As a child it wasn't just that I was ready again for schoolbooks and chalkboards. It wasn't the idea of new notebooks and pencils and tons of blank pages to fill, although enticing it was more than that. For a child it's rather indefinable.
As an adult I still find the pull irresistible. However the whys aren't as elusive. Summer is filled with frolic and fun and thunderstorms and a more relaxed engagement of living. And while we all think that is what we want from life on an endless basis, it is the seasons that mark us and keep everything from getting too stale. There is spring, summer, fall, and winter. Spring and fall bring the most dramatic of changes and one would think that spring would be the most magical as everything comes to life and not fall as everything green fades and dies.
Consider spring as birth; we rejoice and are happy. Then think of fall; it is a time of death but also a time of reaping. More than that, death has more impact than new life for it is something lost. Yet the gift of nature allows the cycle of the seasons to gift us annually with birth, growth, fruition, and death. If we are lucky we live to enjoy many such cycles.
Winter can be deemed "death" in nature when it is only resting a bit before beginning renewal again. Those cold months we busy ourselves with holidays and family gatherings and sleep extra to restore ourselves as well.
Then why is autumn so special? It's not just because the humid air is swept away and is fit to breathe again. It's not because we rest a little easier in our sleep—even with central air. It's not because the cook in the house finally wants to cook something other than heat up a frozen pizza. It is all and none of those things.
Over the summer we tend to lose touch with the power of nature. We busy ourselves with vacations and visiting and such that we exhaust whatever quiet time we have available. During this age of central air, quick foods, and considering yard/lawn work one extra drudgery during the week—we still stay mostly indoors unless poolside or grill-side and neither is for extended times—unless visiting. If a summer squall pops up we curse it rather than enjoy the show because we have to unplug the computer or television.
Autumn brings profound change and seems to enjoy the dramatic. It's time for cider and pumpkins and back-to-school chalk dust and watching the old, blundering, blustering trucks carry the harvest of corn and soybeans and wheat to be processed. There's something comforting about the harvest. It's the time we become the ants and leave our grasshopper days behind as we store up for the long cold months ahead. We stock our larders with staples and head back-to-the-basics on the menus, comfort food; fresh breads, soups, roasts, and all things warm and good and enriching for our souls.
Everything becomes gold, rust, red, orange, yellow, brown, and dun. The green fades away. The air is crisp with a wild, nutty scent of fallen leaves. As nature retreats we feel more alive than ever.
Autumn is about anticipation. We eagerly embrace it especially this year as the drought will make the harvest poor. The green of summer never really was until that sudden 14" rain two weeks ago and summer came back. It's the continuum of seasonal change that makes us feel safe and reminds us that we are living and thankful. I'm ready for autumn to work its magic.