Saturday, September 03, 2005
It's happening. When not so many days ago relief from the stifling blanket of summer couldn't be found even with nightfall, the air is turning. The weight, the smells within, the very texture of the air is transforming as autumn makes her stealthy slide into the Midwest.
In the region that I live, Labor Day weekend is a virtual light switch. With the last long weekend of summer comes the near instant transformation to fall. I don't know how the earth knows when Labor Day is, but she knows. The nights dip into the 60's, even 50's, and four months of lake water warming is undone in a matter of days. The battle cry of the cicada begins to subside. The mob of stars above our country home become sharper, clearer, and more numerous as the dog-day haze humbly bows and gives way to the crisp and clear foreshadowing chill. No sooner have I vacuumed up the dog's summer sheddings than a warm winter coat once again begins to sprout on his pink belly. The grass gives one final burst of green after the hot drought of August, as the trees flame up in yellows, oranges, crimsons.
It's funny how you think of things differently in different points in life. Thirty years ago the onset of autumn meant back to school, and the bittersweet mix of saying goodbye to summer fun and freedoms and the anticipation of new friends, teachers, classes and knowledge. Autumn meant new clothes, new shoes, and dressing in layers. Thinking about what you wanted to be for Halloween. Jumping into huge leaf piles with your buddies, laughing till you couldn't breathe.
Twenty years ago autumn still meant back to school, with the additions of pep rallies and football games. Moths and crane flies swarming madly around the bright stadium floodlights. The taste of those twelve inch astropops you could buy at the snack bar. Hard metal bleachers that chilled your buttcheeks till long after bedtime. The marching band belting out "We Will Rock You", despite the team being pummeled by a 6 touchdown lead.
Ten years ago, autumn's magic was overshadowed by the impending doom of winter. It was the time to winterize the boat, move the motorcycle battery indoors, and pack away the bathing suits, sunscreen and riding gear. The bright splendor went all but unnoticed in the wake of mourning the passing of our season of fun and dreading the endless gray of winter.
My life is now coming full circle. Boating is still our beloved pastime but come September I'm ready for a new batch of seasonal joy. Though I'm no longer a student and the boy is less than two, the jingles of television ads and reappearance of school buses brings those old feelings of anticipation back. The games are starting up and the Hub and I make plans to gather with friends to cheer for the home team. The boy and dog scamper and crunch through the earliest of falling leaves. The golf cart rides we recently took along our country roads in the early evenings, seeking the relief of a breeze to cool us off, are now taken with a blanket thrown over our laps ~ as the twilight air chills more than you'd expect. The smell of backyard fires stoked in our pit and the pits and chimineas of our neighbors permeates the crisp cusp of night. And it's all exquisite.
Autumn will soon be over, but not without my enjoying it this time around. This year I will run to catch up with the girl I once was as we take the boy out for tricks and treats. I will indulge in s'mores around the fire pit as I snuggle down in my cozy sweats and listen to the final serenades of the crickets and toads with the Hub. I will rediscover the simple joys of my childhood, buried for too long, at the bottom of a bright, crisp pile of leaves.