CAROLE VASTA FOLLEY
As I look out my window and watch September turn into October, there is nary a red leaf in sight. One tree, among hundreds in my view, is burnished into a rusty orange, a bellwether beckoning others to follow, which they will, one by one, until entire woodlots are ablaze. I am struck by the grace of summer. Its willingness to let go and allow fall to ripen and take over, especially when I have no such poise. I so want to hang onto summer, not merely to the longer days and the skin-soaking sun, but to its essence. A halcyon vision of life given to us as kids, where summer conjures play, freedom and fireflies. No matter that life now has regular hours and deadlines – summer still exudes possibility.
This seasonal change into fall reveals a longing in me, a primal desire to not let go and a reluctance to say goodbye. I ask myself; did I appreciate summer enough while it was here? Did I use it up, take advantage of what I had, celebrate it, and sing songs about it? These remnant feelings, akin to loss, remind me to be present and make peace with the summer departure so I can fall in love with fall.
I mean no disrespect to autumn. Perhaps my melancholy can be understood. After all, I grew up in a time where fall began with the Jerry Lewis Telethon, the ultimate death knell for summer vacation and school bell for another year of embarrassing awkwardness. Watching hours of questionable entertainment and mawkish fundraising, albeit for a deserving cause, I’d try to quell my nausea about going back to books and blackboards. By the time I finally noticed the glorious foliage, it appeared to be on the ground ready for raking. This season, which is technically months long, seemingly ends in weeks. In all its crisp glory, it is nothing but a brief interlude end-of-life rally, giving illusive hope for continued warm days, blue skies, and that illuminating evening light that slants across the landscape. But in truth, here, the earth will go dormant, plants will wither, and trees become barren, as there’s no choice but to say goodbye to summer. It is a tender feeling I have for this or any farewell.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that for all things there is a season, which is as true for me as it is for everything else. A time to die being just as relevant as a time to be born. These seasons of our lives are all connected, you couldn’t have one without the other. Conspiring together, summer seasons the fall, flavoring the bounty of changes, the ripening and the harvest. Autumn is simply a herald in a riot of color saying thank you, summer, shouting look here now, and advising us to prepare for the inevitable winter as it will always bring a burgeoning spring.
Throughout my life, I have abhorred vacuous conversations about the weather, thinking, “Don’t we have something more meaningful to share?” Now, I see, perhaps there is nothing more salient. What might sound like, “Can you believe how cold it was this morning,” is really one person looking at another and acknowledging the passage of time and the change upon us. Isn’t that what seasons are all about? An evolution of experience, a life and a death and a rebirth. Rinse and repeat. I surmise that it doesn’t matter exactly how we live these days, months, or years. Just like the seasons themselves, we will flow from joy to sorrow and, if we’re lucky, back round again. Surely, a time for everything.