Autumn

by DRM

I am on the couch on the porch. The morning is humid, but not chilled. The night is easing off. It is about 7 am on Sunday morning.

Charlie just scurried off to the front driveway to check something out. Bella heeded my admonition to stay.

The organic matter in the yard is beginning to wither. The garden is turning mottled and brown. The sea grass is gathering its rust colors in uneven blotches up and down its shoots. The trees have lost the rich green vitality of summer. Some have leaves that have turned. Others are beginning a progression that will shift into brilliant colors, the sugars transforming in a riotous attempt to nourish the hungry cells. The cycle has changed phases, but in this early part of the phase, the sequencing is halting and out of sync.

The romantic notion is that the different species of plants are struggling to stave off winter’s slumber. The practical reality is that the cellular composition of each class of organic matter processes the climate change associated with the passing of the seasons differently. The factors are primarily light and temperature. The process is influenced by the presence of nutrients in the soil, of the vitamin D and other chemicals associated with sunlight. The plants then respond in a fashion predicated on the recent climatic pattern, and in a sequence produced by milleniums of evolution.

Sitting here on the porch, the changing colors of the leaves and the wilting of the garden makes me aware that fewer mornings will come that are comfortable enough to sit outside. Already, I’ve made some small adjustments to the weather: I am wearing shoes and have put on a fleece to keep away the slight chill in the air. The awareness that the inventory of mornings is expiring explains a shit in tone and perception. I think about how I can change my circumstances so that I can sit on this couch, have coffee and write even when the air is too cold for comfort. What gloves can I use that can hold a pen, I wonder? Another sequence of images are activated: the change of winter, the long quiet spell, the forcing inside of our activity. Impressions, faint memories, a feeling of getting ready, because the winter brings us all closer, reduces the things to do. While I write those last sentences, I recall bracing winter walks, punching my hiking boots through the snow crust.

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Again, a romantic notion hangs at the margin. With fall comes decay, with winter death, with spring rebirth. I am at a birthday that is the portal to fall, the autumn of life, a 50th birthday. And I have taken very poor care of my body this past year. The expiring inventory of days, the cyclical decay of my body, are seductive metaphors: they can feed a melancholy that staves off the commitment to experience the discomfort that will come with changing my habits and improving my physical condition.

Fall is the natural cycle of decay after an explosion of natural abundance. Winter is the time of regeneration, to prepare for the return of conditions for growth and birth. Death is the interruption of the cycles. Until death, our nature is to pass through each cycle. Our experience can make each cycle more compelling for its experience.