After awaiting September all summer, the month of the Autumnal Equinox came and is almost gone. I try desperately to stop time, clinging to each day, to no avail. These next few months, my favorite time of year, go by in a flash, like sand sifting through my fingers. Poof! In a flash the trees turn beauteous, with variegated flames of color. Poof! The leaves are gone.
First, there is the change in light. The sun, still hot in mid-September, does not pack the punch it did in July, when one could be outdoors for an hour and come in with a change in skin color. Temperatures cool. The grass starts to stop growing. The “blood” of the trees starts to flow back into the trunk, causing leaves to change color. Walnuts, acorns and apples fall. Butterflies, so rampant outdoors in August, have gone inside the stomach of many a child as they go back to school. Even adults are not immune. Many feel the flutter of “back-to-school” anxiety come Fall. Summer vacations are a memory and it is time to “honker down” at work. Fall offers a new beginning but there is a tinge of anxiety in facing some thing new.
And most of all, Fall is a time of riotous color, when a walk in the woods finds one reveling like a drunk, besotted by the yellow, orange, crimson, russet world which our eyes imbibe like a hefty cocktail. It is a time when Italian comes to the lips in a loud “Que bella!!” The green of summer is bucolic and raises the spirit, but the many colors of fall intoxicate. People start talking of peak color, and leafing becomes the pastime of many. It is the time to plant bulbs and endlessly rake blowing leaves.
But Fall is a time of melancholia, too. Flowers die. Reptiles go into hibernation. Insects die or overwinter. Songbirds migrate. Trees eventually loose their leaves. And the end of the lazy days of summer brings with it shorter days, longer nights, and concomitant depression for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Moments of sobriety seep into intoxication with the new world of color as we may remember loved ones who can no longer share the beauty–who can no longer enjoy those coveted, cooler, crisp days of September when coolness kisses the cheeks. For autumn is a celebration of endings, too, perhaps best described by the French poet, Guillaume Appollinaire, in his poem Autumn:
“A bowlegged peasant and his ox receding
through the mist slowly through the mist of autumn…
Oh the autumn the autumn has been the death of summer
In the mist there are two gray shapes receding.”
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.
September sunlight dances on drying leaves, sparkling like diamonds against a flowing stream, an azure sky. The plants of summer are dying. Flowers that have given such joy all summer long are now spurned by us as they shrivel into the paradoxical beauty of old age. The sun burns lightly on summer-drenched skin as clouds intrude intermittently into the almost- Autumn interlude– a gentle foretaste of the cold to come. The last butterflies of summer flit among the blossoming Goldenrod and browning Joe Pie Weed.
The beauty of Fall is the beauty of a dying season. It is the season of death– an alternative to the dew-like bloom of youth in Spring.
When I was very young, I felt death in nature. I could feel what it must feel like to be a tree or a flower—to just “be”—the Buddhist dictum which I cannot now master. In my late twenties, my mind broke into smithereens like shattered glass, and I had a choice to make between going on psych meds or going to hospital. I chose the former and have lived some 40 years more with that choice. I will not say it was a happy choice, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, because I have become driven into a fury of manic activity and self-seeking in stark contrast to the just “being” of my early youth. The psych meds have dispelled my “egolessness” which, in turn, makes me more able to “function”– at a price. For I no longer feel the waves of peace lapping at the shores of my mind and my religious feelings have, comparatively speaking, shriveled up like the summer flowers in the Fall. “It’s always a trade-off” I am told over and over again. My doc told me once that I am one of the lucky ones because for some people the meds don’t work at all. That shut me up and those words periodically pump gratitude into my system. I have remained med-compliant mainly because the meds have kept me out of hospital, DO allow me to function, and, most importantly, I have discovered that being able to function means allowing me to love.
And although more self-seeking, paradoxically this med-induced functionality allows me to give back to the world. My gift is to describe the “just- being” in nature that was imprinted indelibly on my mind when I was young. Death seemed beautiful to me then, a state of simply being at one with the soul of nature. Now I confess to a fear of dying, rather than a fear of death, but most of all, a fear of loss of the love of my life. For we are in the September of our lives and all is intensified now that we are more aware of our finiteness. Truth be told this was always potentially the case, but we lived, like most youth, in the inevitable delusion of immortality.
So I function now at the cost of loss of my revered altered states of consciousness. Perhaps I am in September mind, channeling words and images of the beauty of nature that flooded me long ago are a mere trickle now, as my time to “just be,” once more for this time round, approaches.
Lazy, hazy, daze
fleeting flashes of summer
Creeping dashes of Fall
among the splashes of departing green.