Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Imagine my surprise on visiting my own blog for the first time and finding I had 5 responses to my first post!!

There is fall in the air today in Garrett County, Maryland. This feels good but it depresses me. The first signs of fall always cause my heart to drop. I can almost feel the thud. Out biking the other day, I saw red leaves on the road. Yes, in mid-August. My husband, a forester, has always dismissed my claims of seeing leaves start to turn on the trees the last days of July. Yet every year I see them, and every year by mid-August I see the first ones on the ground. It takes another two weeks for the less-vigilant to begin to see them, but by Labor Day they are on the way down even to the eyes of the inattentive.

I have struggled for years with the question of why the fall makes me heartsick. It's not that I don't love the cooler, crisper air, the clear skies, the pretty colors -- and with an abundance of maples in Garrett County, they certainly are rich. I am aware with my mind that it is beautiful and sensuously delightful, but my soul does not feel it, only this heaviness, the sensation that everything I had ever hoped for is over. Summer was here and it's gone and I blinked and I missed it.

Oddly, when the leaves are actually down, the trees bare, I feel better. It's over with, I can move on. The true magic wand that lets me breathe again is snow. Just a dusting will do it. an outline of fringe on the unprotected twigs. An embryonic spark of joy ignites tangibly somewhere inside.

I hate scraping my windshield, pouring cat litter under stuck tires, digging a path to where I want to go, just as much as the next person. I do not enjoy the ferocious wind blowing bits of sleet that cut little bleeding dots into my face. But the snow magically lightens the autumn heaviness inside me. It smells good. And I love to see the snow-laden hibernating landscape all winter, knowing that, perhaps like my spirit in autumn, the earth is still alive under its burden.

I won't be seeing snow this winter. As soon as my Ironman is over, we'll be heading south, following the autumn into Texas and then across the southwest into Arizona, where it does not snow in winter, where it stays warm, dry, and sunny. One would think that eternal summer would forestall whatever it is that grips me in fall. But it only seems to me to represent not seeing snow, not having that sense of release and relief when the first flakes touch me.

I am such a puzzle. No matter how long I live, I will never figure me out.

5 comments:

*jeanne* said...

I LOVE the autumn, but many people are depressed by the idea of the return of winter that it signifies.

I will miss gardening season, though, when things aren't growing...

But MAN! I won't miss the retreat of this godawful MD HEAT!

Ellie said...

But I like winter... it's not that I dread winter coming. The onset of winter relieves it... really strange.

nancytoby said...

I think it's because autumn is about ending, slowing down, cessation, diminishment, drawing to a close, dying.... once it's truly winter that's all done!

Nice essay! Thought-provoking!

Downhillnut said...

Autumn doesn't depress me, barren landscapes and dark, short days do. While I love the brief beauty of Autumn and the refreshing coolness and return to easier running temperatures, Autumn is kind of an end to lazing around in bare feet, an ending of freedom. It means whatever summery things I didn't do this summer will have to wait until next summer. It is a return to schedules, lists, objectives, deadlines, meetings and punctuality. It means I have to get out the cheque book for school fees, soccer league, Christmas shopping, etc. Maybe I'll feel differently when I don't have kids in school, but that's what it is for me now.

nancytoby said...

We're out here in blogland waiting breathlessly for that next entry....