The First Day of Autumn
I woke 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 far too steamy. And I guess on those days it did occur to me that summer had settled in.
But how can it be the first day of autumn already?
It looks just like summer. It’s bright and sunny with clear blue skies, dotted with puffy, white, summer clouds. And it’s nice and warm. It looks like yesterday, but yesterday was not the first day of autumn, it was the last day of summer.
Summer drew its last breath late last night 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 because they are enjoying the sunshine and the light warm breeze… on this first day of autumn.
Of all the seasons, autumn is the sneakiest. It comes pa adding in on cat’s paws, dressed as summer, fooling everyone except those interested in astronomy, or calendars, 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. Those dark, cold, lifeless, gray, windy, white days of winter are hiding still – but not far away. Autumn’s going to hold my hand and fool me with her gentle masquerade of summer until one morning I wake up and look out my window and see frost all covering the grass. After that, autumn’s costume will be ripped away and I’ll see her real face – and only then will it strike me that winter is just a snowflake away.
What can I do about it? Nothing. That’s for sure. It reminds me that I used to tease 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 probably 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, the grass doesn’t care what season it is – nor do the trees. They just sleep all winter and wake in the spring. But it seems to me that the grass is growing better on this first day of autumn than it was in the middle of summer.
When I see the first day of autumn disguised as summer, it makes me think about my life… and a lot of other things too. I become contemplative this time of the year. Why is man the only animal that needs a calendar? Why is man the only animal who knows throughout his entire life that he or she is going to die?
Calendars make it easy for us to count the days, keep track of the seasons, and, for better or for worse, remind us that we are all mortal, and we all have a limited number of days until the day comes when we won’t need a calendar – or anything else – at all.
Compared to the life of a mayfly, our human lifespan seems eternal; compared to the life of a star, our lifespan is just a tick of the grand cosmic clock.
It’s the first day of autumn and the sun is shining, the birds are signing, the flowers are blooming, and the trees are still green, if it weren’t for the calendar I would never be able to tell the end of summer from the first day 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 on most mornings. I surely don’t need a calendar to tell me something is going on.
Autumn is the great impersonator. She creeps in dressed as summer and goes out dressed as winter. Autumn only shows her true colors for short time – but OH! What colors she shows!
In mid-October around my little town, it looks like Mother Nature has personally dipped her artist’s bruintoint a pallet f watercolors and painted the trees and the forests in a vivid panoply of colors – from the faintest yellow to fieriest oranges and reds.
Apple cider, donuts, bonfires, football, frosty mornings, and 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 its commercialization.
I love Christmas but not Christmas in October. It only starts in October because there’s money to be made. How sad.
The first day of autumn is here. I can’t change it. I am again reminded just how quickly time passes – and how precious every single moment and every single day is. And I’ll try hard not to waste any of them. But I’m human and I know that I will.
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 has passed, carried away on the subtle breath of autumn. Autumn crept in late last night, so silently that no one noticed.
Every one of my days is numbered…so I promise myself to try and make every day special. Every day is a gift for which I’ll try to be thankful.
Every day I awaken is a day for which I should be thankful. And I’m thankful that I am around to see another autumn begin… even though today she’s dressed up as summer.
And let me not forget that winter is just a snowflake away.
Great Essay. Keep up the good work. Love your Essays.