I grew up in Ohio and my heart is rooted in four distinct seasons. As a result my inner clock and my sense of where I am in the world gets thrown off at this time of year in Louisiana.
I’m a fall person. I love everything about it. I was born in October and it’s the month I chose to get married in. Put me in jeans, knee socks and a sweatshirt and I’m a happy girl. I’m enamored with the color that autumn infuses into life. The first frost on the grass gives me great contentment. My heart races when I feel cold wind on my face.
I’m not supposed to return home from Thanksgiving in Cincinnati where the trees are bare and the color long gone to trees just starting to blaze with autumn color. It goes against everything I understand to decorate my house and hang outdoor Christmas lights while I’m wearing shorts and flip flops. The fact that hibiscus and marigolds are still blooming outside my laundry room door in December is disconcerting.
And so I was caught off guard a few weeks ago when I was walking the dogs and heard the sound of dancing leaves. It’s the wrong month for that. But the sound was distinct. A rush of wind picked up behind me and caught the leaves in it’s wake, lifting them up from the ground and engaging them in one last burst of movement and life before they settled back down to the earth.
I was immediately transported back to my teenage self in Ohio, to a time when I was still untouched by other places and climates, to a time before I was ever touched by adult concerns.
Here in the south I’ve had to adjust my sense of time and I’ve had to learn to look for fall beauty and pleasures with a different frame of reference. I’ve had to learn to look closer. Autumn doesn’t arrive here in a showy way, but rather softly and much more laid back. The color shows up over a longer period of time, in more subtle ways, and many of our trees stay green year round. I’ve had to learn to appreciate individual leaves rather than sweeping panoramas.
For now I can live with that. Life is teaching me lessons during this southern tour. It’s showing me that beauty can be smaller and it can catch me unaware. It’s whispering in my ear that flowers can bloom outside, even in winter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.