Friday, October 11, 2013

In the fall of the year

I heard geese today. Trailing their way somewhere south. Somewhere warmer, and away from the icy-cold grip of winter that soon will be here.
I saw colors change today in the first moments of a great golden season. Bright greens magically transforming to hues of red, gold, yellow and orange, fluttering on the breeze to land and skip and whirl and burn and disappear.
I smelled smoke on the breeze today. Bonfires of leaves, dried vines and grasses, crackling and warming hands and hearts. Meanwhile, softening sunlight streams through empty branches.
Today is the fall of the year.
When days shorten, air cools and nighttime windows open. When children jump in tall piles of crisp color, when the sun sets hazy in lazy red splendor, when summer days give way to autumn twilight.
In the fall of the year.
It will frost and frost again. Many of the birds have headed to their winter nests, with squawking, chirping backyard-sunny days replaced by the quieter, windblown sounds of fall.
The season we call fall was once referred to simply as “harvest” to reflect the time when farmers gathered their crops for winter storage, roughly between the months of August and November. Astronomically, the season lasts from the end of the September until December, between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.  Harvest comes from the Old Norse word haust meaning “to gather or pluck.” In the early 1600s, as more people started moving into cities, the word harvest fell out of use. Instead, city dwellers began to use the phrase “fall of the leaf” to refer to the third season of the year when trees change and lose their leaves. The word “fall” comes from the Old English word feallan which means “to fall or to die.”
In the fall of the year.
Soon enough, it will be yet another season. We will fight the cold, the snow and all the other weather-related challenges that face us. Wintertime and the holidays will plunge us into a desperate orgy of decorating and gatherings and celebrations and shopping.  We will be busy beyond belief, because that’s how we are supposed to be.
But not yet.
Because right now, it is the fall of the year.

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