The First of Autumn
I woke up this morning and once the cobwebs were washed away by a strong cup of coffee, it suddenly occurred to me that today is the first day of autumn. It struck me as odd that summer has come and gone and I barely paid attention to it. I took my walks almost every day and some of those days were really steamy – I guess on those days it did occur to me that summer had settled in. But how can it be the first of autumn already?
It looks just like summer today – bright and sunny with cerulean-blue skies – and it’s pretty warm out, for sure. It looks like yesterday, but yesterday was not the first of autumn, it was the last day of summer. Summer drew its last breath early this morning, and now autumn reigns, but hardly anyone noticed. No doubt there are millions of people walking around today thinking it’s still summer – or not caring about the season, just obliviously enjoying the sunshine and the light warm winds of the first of autumn.
Of all the seasons, autumn is the sneakiest. It comes padding in on cat’s paws, dressed as summer, fooling everyone except those interested in astronomy, or calendar-watchers, or those counting the days until the end …or beginning of something.
As for me, I just don’t know how I feel exactly. I can tell you that autumn is one of my favorite seasons – but I sure don’t like where it leads me. Those dark, cold, lifeless, gray, windy, white days of winter are hiding not too far away, and autumn’s going to hold my hand and fool me with its gentle masquerade of summer until some morning I wake up and look out the window and see frost all over the grass. After that, autumn’s costume will be ripped away and I’ll see its real face – and only then will it really sink in that winter is just a snowflake away.
What can we do about it? Nothing. That’s for sure. It reminds me that I used to kid my dad on his birthday about how old he was getting. He would always look at me with a smile and say, “it sure beats the alternative”. So if I look at the seasons that way, I have to look at life that way. At my age, the best way to approach any day or any season is to remember it beats the alternative.
Looking out my window, I see the grass needs to be mowed again. I just cut it three days ago. Recent rains and cooler nights agree with the grass, I guess. Anyway, it doesn’t care what season it is – nor do the trees. They just sleep all winter and wake in the spring. It’s growing better on this first of autumn than it was in the middle of summer.
When I see the first of autumn dressed up like summer it makes me think about my life and a lot of other things too. I get contemplative this time of the year. Why is man the only animal that needs a calendar? Why is man the only animal that needs money? That’s a whole other topic though.
Calendars make it easy for us to count the days, keep track of the seasons, and, for better or for worse, to remind us that we all have a limited number of days until we won’t need a calendar – or anything else. Compared to the life of a mayfly, our human lifespan seems eternal; compared to the life of star, our lifespan is just one tick of grand cosmic clock.
The first of autumn and the sun is shining, the birds are signing, the flowers are blooming, the trees are still green, if it weren’t for the calendar I would never be able to tell summer from the first of autumn.
But that’s not true really. I notice the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer. I notice the dew is heavier on the grass most morning. I surely don’t need a calendar to tell something is changing.
Autumn is the great impersonator. It comes in dressed as summer and goes out dressed as winter; autumn only shows its true colors for short time – but OH! What colors it shows.
In mid-October around here, it looks like Mother Nature has personally dipped her artist’s brush in a pallet of artists’ watercolors and painted the trees and the forests in a panoply of colors – from the faintest yellow to fiery orange and reds.
Apple cider, donuts, bonfires, football, frosty mornings, blazing woodland trails, all give way, much too early, to the tinsel and brightly lit displays that used to symbolize Christmas, but now only symbolize the commercialization of Christmas. I love Christmas but not Christmas in October. It only starts early because there’s money to be made.
The first of autumn is here. I can’t change it. So I will get up every morning and try to remember to be thankful for each day, regardless of the season. I will keep trying to remember how quickly time passes – and how precious every single day is. And I’ll try hard not to waste any more of them.
I’ll remember that it seems like just a few days ago when I was walking through the muck and slush of spring, dreaming of beautiful, warm, dry summer days. And now summer is gone, it was carried away on the breath of autumn – the autumn which crept in early this morning so quietly hardly anyone notice.
Every one of our days is numbered…so I’m going to try to make every day special. It’s a gift and I’ll try to be thankful.
I will try to remember to count my blessings every day, and be thankful that it’s the first of autumn.
And I will try to remember that winter is just a snowflake away.