This morning, autumn finally arrived. The air, both clear and cold, the blue of the sky and the vivid colors of the leaves just now beginning to show themselves all signal that my favorite time of the year has finally decided to make its debut. Yes, it’s a bit later this year than usual but well worth the wait as this promises to be one of the more beautiful autumns I have seen in a while. The hints have been there of course, subtle yet visible as the green leaves began to fade and the true colors hidden beneath (as my 4th grade son explained to me recently) began to emerge.
My first reminder of this was that the house was cold when I woke up. I didn’t want to get out from under the warm blanket and my nose was cold. Time to turn the heat on for the first time since March or so. The characteristic aroma of a dormant heater soon filled the house, one that I associate with the change of season almost as much as the smell of pumpkin bread baking. Hot coffee brewing soon took its place, a morning tradition, yet subtly different in a still-cold house. While heat seems to haze and confuse the senses, cold seems to sharpen and clarify them.
Autumn has a way of doing that…changing our perceptions of the world around us as the world itself changes and transforms. I had a sneak preview of that last weekend when I travelled the Blue Ridge Parkway where fall was in the fullness of the season, enjoying the sweeping vistas of orange, yellow and red through twisty mountain roads, up high where the air was clear. Even my 9 year old son, who travelled with me on this annual pilgrimage was impressed, although I think it was more with my driving skill than with the scenery that unfolded around us.
The mountains remind me to appreciate the glorious, fleeting images of fall very differently than what I see around me in the flat regions of home. Distance becomes quite different when you can see the world around you for ten or fifteen miles and one is reminded that you are but a very small part of it all, at least I am. Ethan, on the other hand, was content to stick his head out of the window and “taste” the crisp air of an autumn day, as captured by a photographer brave enough to stand close to the twisty road known as “The Dragon”.
Memories seem to linger and to last longer when made during this time of the year. While only random images of childhood summer vacations come to my mind, those made of traveling with my grandparents to places like northern Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky during the height of “leaf season” have made a much more lasting impression and I hope his trip with his father and his grandmother will be much the same.
Halloween is only a few days away and Thanksgiving won’t be far behind it. The pumpkin has been carved and he grins with pointy teeth at those who venture up our steps out front. He knows his time is limited, that the passage of days will bring his demise, yet he does his job well, reminding us that our own time is limited and that we must enjoy each day the Creator gives to us. Even so, I enjoy these days more than others. Soon Thanksgiving will follow, reminding us to be thankful for family, friends and all that we are given to enjoy that life with.
Autumn is here. I won’t miss the heat, the humidity and the haze. I won’t miss the air conditioning bill. I won’t miss the hotness of the car baking on a hot summer day. I won’t miss mowing the lawn and I certainly won’t miss having to keep an eye out for snakes when searching the shrubbery for a lost tennis ball. I will miss the longer days and the lingering sun in the evening but everything comes with some price to pay.
What I will miss, when autumn is over, is the bright orange and yellow maple leaves on my grandmother’s trees, still watching over her home years after she left us. I will miss the sounds of trick-or-treaters running and screaming at everything. I already miss the beauty of the mountains and look forward to the next time I can visit them and reconnect to the world of nature and beauty that they offer. And I will certainly miss the pumpkin when he is gone.