I happened by this scene almost a year ago in Pennsylvania.
Rather than explain the many layers here I’ll just let it be. Sometimes it’s more fun to surmise rather than know the whole story.
Mystery is a nice aspect, especially in the month of October.
This is a favorite month of mine. My husband and I were both born in October and we started our married life together on the very first day of the month. Besides…cooler weather, autumn leaves, jeans and sweatshirts, pumpkins, corn stalks, caramel apples and trick-or-treating…what’s not to love?
October makes me happy. It’s the time of year when my soul seems to rest and soar at the same time. As the days gradually get shorter I look forward to winter’s interlude and longer nights in front of a fire, even as I revel in the bright colors and brilliance of autumn. Knowing this season is a swan song does nothing to damper my spirit in October.
When the sun shines and the wind blows on autumn days, I’m delighted because the leaves dance.
Several years ago I wrote in more detail about dancing leaves. Little did I know that one day, after my husband retired from the Air Force, I’d be returning to live in the state that post was written about, where fall arrives quietly.
I didn’t expect to be here as October turns to November but today I’m still in the state of Virginia, where autumn arrives in a blaze of color and sensations. Although I’d like to sell my home and get this move underway, I can’t help but feel that God’s timing is allowing me to experience this shining season once more.
Through every long, hot, sweltering summer I wait for October. The month itself is my happy place.
October encompasses thirty-one days of transition during which summer lingers and obstinately hangs around, the first days of the month often acting like they belong to August, but eventually giving way to shiver inspiring mornings and nights that beg for fires to be lit.
The greens of summer hold on as long as they possibly can, reluctantly giving way to the yellows and golds that are the harbingers of nature’s last burst of celebration, when reds and oranges emerge in a blaze of glory before the woods settle into the deep sleep of winter.
I turn to the woods on October days. There’s solitude in them, and a peace that takes hold of my soul. Leaves twist and turn, caught by the wind as they flutter from high perches to take their place on the carpet of color at my feet. Small streams meander alongside, and often in the way of, well-worn walking paths. I stop, fascinated with the movement of light and color beneath and on top of the water.
On this 15th day of October, I sit on my deck, surrounded by the very woods I walk in, and I can feel the expectancy of the cacophony of color that lies in wait. It’s close. Within a week these trees will be glorious and I’ll try to spend as much time as I can among them.
As I wait I have memories of other autumns and other Octobers in other places.
I came into this world in October. When the time comes, I hope I also exit it during this glorious month. Before the first snow comes I want autumn leaves to rest on my grave.
My sister was born in April and her colors are those of the sea. She’s happiest when she’s got her toes in the sand and she’s gazing out on the ocean. She delights in lighthouses and the feel of a warm sun while listening to the sound of waves breaking on the shore.
I’m the opposite. My heart soars as the sizzling temperatures of summer break and I feel my blood quicken on those first mornings of fall when I step out the door for my morning walk and realize a trip to the coat closet is in order. I’m a jeans and sweatshirt girl.
My home is decorated in the hues of autumn. I lean towards deep browns, oranges and reds. Yellow has to be on the gold end of the spectrum. When I decorate my home for summer I tend toward the deep blues and reds of the Fourth of July rather than the bright pinks, greens and yellows of summer. This year I brought those hues into my home in preparation for several parties and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I switched them out to the colors of fall that I felt centered again.
I was born in October and my theory on the colors and hues that calm me center around the theory that we gravitate towards the things associated with our births. Am I drawn to fall colors because I associate them with the comfort of being held by my family and the first feelings of belonging that came during that time? Perhaps my early connections of birthday celebrations that happened in October and brought happiness tied themselves to the colors of that season. In any case, my hues are autumn’s hues.
It’s been four years since I’ve experienced a northern autumn so I’m pulling these photos out of my archives, most of them taken in Northern Virginia or Ohio.
My husband and I are in the process of our 24th move since we started our married and Air Force life together 36 years ago. We’re headed up to Omaha, Nebraska and although we might be a bit late for fall’s glory this year, I’m pretty sure I’ll see it in 2014. Because I’ve complained about the searing heat of Louisiana for five summers now my husband has decreed I’m not allowed to grumble about being cold when our zip code changes!
We’ll see how that goes….
Fall arrives reluctantly in Louisiana.
Instead of the cool autumns I grew up knowing in Ohio I’ve learned to expect steam rising from hot pavement during a late September rain. Rather than shivering at football games with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate I’ve had to adjust to wearing flip-flops and shorts well into October. And instead of expecting falling leaves to carpet the ground in color I’ve come to appreciate that color happens in other ways.
Today it happened in the median of an ordinary road outside a favorite restaurant in Shreveport.
And so I post this for all my friends in South Dakota and other points north as the snow blankets them this weekend. I miss winter but that missing is tempered by all this gorgeous color on an October day….and the fact that I don’t have to rake or shovel any of it!
I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
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.