The leaves beat out a rhumba on the sidewalk. The wind is the invisible musician making autumn melodies. The sidewalk leaves dance in a circle while their more stubborn former branch mates crackle high above, still clinging to the tree.
The oranges and reds explode across the landscape, flaunting their colors while the evergreens jealously try to ignore them and turn away at the slightest breeze. They’re still wearing their summer outfits which begin to feel dull and outdated. Give it a month or so, the conifers whisper confidently. You’ll be stripped nude, embarrassingly stark next to us still dressed in deep lush greens.
But for now, the maples, oaks, and sweetgum glow happily like a young girl twirling around in her first prom. They proudly shake their pretty colors like a woman leaving the hair salon with a new style.
No wonder she’s called “Mother Nature.” Nature knows how to strut her stuff like top female models on a catwalk.
Meanwhile, the full autumn moon hung low and bright before it began its nightly effort to lose inches around its girth. A harvest moon, reaping the light of the sun, makes an ordinary night seem full of golden magic. During the day shift, the sun is dancing at new angles and casting more cutting shadows. The bright blast of the summer sun is being replaced by a coy autumn orb.
“Isn’t this weather great?” everyone says to each other. After the sweltering summer temperatures, the cooler air feels like a full body sip of lemonade. The crisp mornings are pleasant, so we still avoid the jacket-or-not debate for those arguing they don’t want to cart it around all day.
The smell of wood burning fireplaces and apple cider snap at our noses and wrap us in teasing warmth, because we don’t quite require the heat toasting our bodies or coating our throats but it’s still a pleasant comfort.
The only problem with fall is that it’s followed by winter. The colors dance before our eyes for a few weeks and then rudely disappear for months. The palette drains away and we are left with only gray, gray, and then some more gray.
The first snows are lovely, like twinkly frosting spread all over the landscape. But, depending on where one lives, the endless snow cover or countless school “snow days” grow quickly tiresome. Never very skilled at ice skating, I am even more uncomfortable doing it behind the wheel of a 3,500-lb. SUV.
And the bitter cold temperatures. It becomes quickly impossible to remember the steamy summer from only a few months back. The air pin-pricks our faces and turns our hands red and raw.
Still, winter means that spring will eventually return with her gentle warmth and cheery color. We appreciate spring more with winter sandwiched in between it and fall. It might be a horrible clash of colors if we went from the lovely golden, red hues of autumn to the bright, garish grounded-rainbow of spring.
I hear the Canadian geese squawking as they fly over in formation, choosing their spot to spend winter. In six months the swallows will be seeking a place around my front door to nest again.
While we are rushing from work to school to meetings to malls, nature is cycling through the seasons. It is ignoring our efforts to cool or heat our homes, dress lighter or heavier, and stay in more or get out more.
We are just a cog in nature’s machinery, periodically clogging the works with our uncontrolled growth or environmental hazards. As we fret over the economy, obsess over the latest technology, or slog through our day without even looking up at the sky, nature is putting on a fashion show, light show, and live animal show all at once. Maybe if we pay attention we’ll see something we haven’t noticed before. At least we’ll be reminded of our humble little position on this planet.
I find myself these days looking for excuses to walk the long way around, meandering in the moment. In a couple of months, I’ll be scurrying, head down, from one interior to the next, so now I’m remembering to look up, look around, and let my senses soak it in.
Part of the beauty is that all of this will happen again next year. In an unpredictable world that often brings twists and turns, we can find comfort in the cycles of the seasons and in our simple role of observer. We aren’t in charge here for a change. Although we bear responsibility to care for our environment, sometimes we can only bear witness to its performance. So we should take time to watch as the autumn curtain falls.
Jaletta Albright Desmond is a self-syndicated columnist who writes about faith, family, and the fascinatingly mundane aspects of daily life. She lives in Davidson with her husband and two daughters. Contact her at email@example.com