Well, it’s fall. Not only do the somewhat cooler weather, earlier sunset, and high school football tell us it is autumn; now the calendar corroborates our suspicions. It’s official.
I think I take summer somewhat for granted. Leaving the house in the morning without a jacket, enjoying the long days, and experiencing the amazing colors and textures of summer’s foliage – they seem to be what normal is, and what every day will be tomorrow, next week, and next month. But, that point of view only works if a person lives on the south or west coast of our country.
There is a kind of amnesia about winter, I think. Once it’s gone for the year come March, April, or May – depending on the season – I think a part of us think it’s gone forever. It’s something we’ve survived, like the measles.
Now, though, with the weather slowly changing, the crickets chirps growing slower and slower, and the appearance of the occasional leaf drifting down to the ground, our amnesia fades, and we realize another summer has come and gone.
For people with gardens and fruit trees, autumn is the time to harvest and, in many cases, preserve produce for later use. In many cases the time, effort, and energy that goes into “putting things up” probably costs more than buying things at the grocery store, but opening a jar or a freezer bag of something you’ve grown yourself sometimes calls to mind summertime, and the hope that there will be another one coming around soon.
I find that working in the garden these days is bitter sweet. There are still flowers to enjoy, some of the vegetables are still growing, and the bugs aren’t very active. I find that pulling this year’s weeds to reduce the proliferation of next year’s is gratifying, but feels a little like finally fixing the front steps before you sell your house. You scold yourself for not doing it sooner.
And, there’s no getting around the fact that fall is the end of something. The growing season is over, the warmth soon will be, and the days of doing things outside after dinner are numbered. And, just as spring is a great metaphor for birth and growth and life, fall is the beginning of the end, as all the green around us fades to different shades of brown and gray.
One giant upside to fall this year is that the annual battle to paint the porch floor before the weather is too cold has been won. We painted it a few weeks ago. Honestly, any “to do” list that spans decades is a sign of big problems, so it’s a relief to have gotten that done.
I figure that a person is lucky to have 100 summers, and some people have far, far fewer. Being around to see a summer end, and an autumn begin, is much more of a gift than we usually comprehend. With any luck at all, not that many months from now we’ll be enjoying a “warm” 55 degree day, and making plans for the new spring and summer days that will follow.
For now, it’s time to peel some apples and pick some tomatoes, and get them, and me, ready for the winter to come.