Fall is our favorite season. Not just because the trees put on their colors, nor because we get to kick our way through the leaf litter on our hikes, nor because the winds bring tangy smells and raspy whispers through the forest, nor because the pestersome bugs are mostly gone, nor because it is cool enuf to have a camp fire, nor because the febrile fecundity of nature is finally checked. But having said all of that, I’m not sure I can put into words exactly why we favor fall as we do.
I suppose some of it has to do with childhood autumns. Celebrations like Halloween and Thanksgiving come in the fall, with their treats and foods and family visits. The anticipation of Xmas swelled in earnest then. L’s birthday is in the fall — a happy day for Pablo when she was born.
But the savor of fall, I think, has more to do with the reminder of how limited it all is. The high frolics of spring and summer are finished now. Fall is a gentle hand on the shoulder. Enjoy this time before the cold clamp of winter comes down. The transition will be measured and will bring its own compensations, but make no mistake, winter is on its way. And so we take extra effort to enjoy our hours in the woods. We linger in the comfy chairs soaking in the weak sunlight that comes our way. Our hikes are longer because we don’t have to contend with the heat. Plans for Roundrock begin to hatch because nature seems conquerable again. Chores are taken up willingly, in part because they keep us warm.
I don’t think L and I are quite into the autumn of our lives. Certainly there is no snow on the roof, so to speak. And I’m not sure how these things would be measured anyway. It is easy, perhaps too easy, to draw lessons about life from observations of the natural world. The old “sermons in stones” ethic of Emerson and Thoreau that it is now fashionable to disdain.
But we are natural beings. We are in it. We are of it. And eventually we will return to it. So now in the fall, more than ever, we realize this is the time to live it.