“Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils.” –Cyril Connolly
This afternoon I had the pleasure of meandering through downtown with a good friend and nothing to do. We wandered, talked, took in our city, and simply savored the day. It was gray and breezy and as close to Fall as we get. I love the season of Fall. It’s understated, milder than its neighboring seasons, and one that not all areas get to enjoy. I miss it.
Spring gets most of the glory. It is the beginning of life. Days grow longer and temperatures begin to rise. The chill of winter fades away and green floods the earth. Summer is the fun one. It’s free and exciting, no school or worries. It’s about water and travel and lazy, late nights in the cool hours of the day. Winter gets a bad rap. It is dead and dark, but it is also about celebrations: Christmas, the start of a new year. It, in its own way, is about life as well. Fall doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
I love the gradual chill that creeps in as Fall takes hold. It starts with a breeze, with scattered clouds in the afternoons. Suddenly it’s dark in the evening and cool all night. Sweaters emerge from their hiding places and blankets cover beds. Grilled cheese and soup replace snow cones and iced tea. As leaves crisp and fall, it seems that the season brings about death and an end to fun and long days. On the contrary, Fall is about life, about what we work and live for. Harvests come in. What was once a seed, a hope and work, is now fruit, sustenance, results. Our expectant patience is rewarded with abundance.
Fall is filled with memory. I can smell the sweet, freshly cut wood delivered to our home. Still sticky with sap and bark, we piled it up for the winter. I can feel my hand fill with the strings and seeds inside of our jack-o-lanterns as we cleaned them out. The first crackling fire glows at my back as its heat penetrates my pajamas, drying my hair after a warm bath. The rush of a cold wind across my face brings back lunches outside during school and changing leaves bring home to me. I can hear the rake scraping across the grass, gathering the crisp leaves. They scratch as we jumped into piles of them, the smell of them crumbling in my hand. Fall is childhood more than any other season. It is togetherness. As darkness comes faster and faster, more of our time is spent together. More hot dinners bring us around the table. It’s the excitement of school beginning, the adventure of Halloween, and the anticipation of Winter.
As much as I love the experience of Fall, or perhaps the memory of it, I also appreciate that it has a place in the cycle of the year. The winds and rains would not be as welcome if Summer were not so brutal. The red leaves would not draw my eye if green were not so rich before. Crops would not be ready to gather if they had not grown and matured through the rain and heat. Fall puts the other seasons into perspective. In the cold darkness, we remember the warm sun. The empty branches create space for Spring’s buds to grow. I like the Summer best during the Winter. And it’s the other seasons that make Fall so sweet. It’s not as severe as the Winter that follows, kinder than the Summer that precedes it. It is the older sibling of Spring, somehow wiser, slower, more deliberate. It has more restrain and grace than the excited and eager Spring. It is part of a cycle, balancing and offsetting the other seasons. In the city of 73 degrees and sunny, I miss the beauty of four distinct seasons. However today, for a few hours, Fall wandered the city with a couple of friends.
“It takes some cold to know the sun/ It takes the one to have the other” –Jason Mraz