This time of year, I get a bit nostalgic, if nostalgic is the right word. Perhaps pensive works better. Fall means all sorts of things, but for many people, “bare” and “dark” come to mind first.
The trees are bare of leaves, the skies are often bare of sun, the gardens are bare of tomatoes and beans. The moss roses and impatiens are bare of blossoms and, truth be told, they look pretty funky, what with those fleshy stems frozen and shriveled up. Blah!
However…there should always be a however…even though we have to do something about that two feet of leaves on the driveway, take the time to look at them, now that they’re on the ground. The colors are spectacular, of course, especially if they fell from that nearby sugar maple that turned florescent just a week or so ago. Yes, rain (or snow!) might have brought them down, sometimes all at once, but take a look anyway. Every vein is visible, like a road map. Whether you picture it as spreading out from the stem or coming together at the stem, it’s a vascular map. It reminds me of my own journeys out and back, carrying all sorts of replenishment, or bringing sustenance home. For the leaf, it’s like a delivery from the botanical grocery store to every lobe of a leaf. Did you know that a good-sized tree can move a ton of water up to the leaves every day? That’s a wow!
All right, I’ll grant that the tilt of the earth doesn’t do any favors for those of us in the northern hemisphere. If you’re way the heck up there in the north, then maybe the deepening darkness seems more like a malevolent force that a simple change of seasons. The equinox is still more than a month away, but I secretly believe that November is when we hit the 12-hours of dark mark. When I worked, getting up at 4:30 a.m. meant the sky was dark, even if it wasn’t fall. After I retired, I slept in until perhaps 7:00 a.m. No problem, right? Until fall. When suddenly, that hour of the morning felt like the dead of night. And then, the real dead of night came by seven in the evening. What’s with that?
In the autumn, the daylight hours are shorter, but usually still very busy. But when Mom Nature turns out the lights in fall, I’m forced into a slower mode. I guess “forced” is too strong, considering I’ve learned to look around and slow down. Consider the books I want to read. Now is the time to get the fire going, curl up on the couch, and settle my mind for an enjoyable, yes, pensive, hour or two. Time to read, write, bake bread…Ah! Such a gift!
We blame it all on the sun. We say the sun has moved south, rising later, setting sooner. But shift your thinking. The sun doesn’t move. The earth turns away. Still orbiting our sun, the earth tilts back, as if flirting with a lover who wants to steal a kiss. We know that, come spring, the earth will lean in to accept that kiss. Earth and the sun’s time is not our time. We want fast, quick, spontaneous. But the earth, dancing with the sun, sways and tilts, taking us, its passengers, along for the languid, but deliberate, ride.
Fall is a fine time to remember we are voyagers on a terrestrial ship following a solar map. That’s the big picture. Fall may be the time for things to fall, to decrease, but it’s also a time for things to rise, to appear. So look around and see the small things too. The veins in leaves. The lone migrating bird, the sound of rain on dry leaves, the wooly bear caterpillar’s fuzzy band…the lack of mosquitoes! Take time to be pensive.