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.