A Spice-laden Autumn

Emeryville and the San Francisco Bay at sunset. By T.E. MacArthur
Emeryville and the San Francisco Bay at sunset. By T.E. MacArthur

I love the Fall … that Spice-laden Autumn.

I am one of those delirious fools who wait all throughout August and September for the return of pumpkins, apples, and falling leaves.

As a girl, growing up in Colorado, we had the Aspen trees to tell us what time of year it was. As each of those green leaves changed to yellow and orange, every child in our neighborhood knew that three things were coming: cozy blankets, hot apple cider, and Halloween. In Colorado, when every living thing seemed to reflect the iron-rich rocks in color, and the state was living up to its name, there was a change in the air. Romantic, and rarely varied, nothing spoke of Summer after the Autumnal Equinox. The brisk morning air was colder. The rain, by which one could set their watch, had disappeared. If there was a sudden, unexpected burst of warm weather, we called it Indian Summer, and kept right on with our preparations for the coming snow.

In so many ways, that was our seasonal right of passage. We recognized the change in year and celebrated it with our daily rituals. It is something that I miss dearly.

I live in California now. We have brown as our daily color from about July onward. If it isn’t brown, it is gray with fog. We really don’t have seasons beyond Rain, Hot, Foggy, and Earthquake*. That was difficult for me to accept at first, but there are aspects of this environment that reflect the beauty of Autumn. No more than a day or so past the Equinox, I noticed that it was darker in the morning while leaving for work. The air tastes sharper and colder. The light changes dramatically. Is it only in my head – my imagination gone silly – or is it true that the world appears as though someone washed a sheer brush-stroke of pale blue over everything at Twilight? Reds and fuchsias in the sunset are more vivid than ever.

This will be my first Autumn without my fuzzy companion, Mac the cat. This year there will be no tossing fallen leaves and watching him pounce, crunching them in his paws. No sticks to drag under the leaves and across the drying lawn, giving him a chance to chase them. When it gets colder and rainier, my lap may be un-warmed. This too is part of Autumn: the understanding that this is the time when we begin to let go – that which lives will at some moment die. The trees will go bare and the fields fallow. There is a sense of rest, quiet, and peace in the seasonal ending. Autumn allows for a steady, almost compassionate decline and decay. Its pace is elegant and graceful.

Yes, I love the Fall. It is my favorite time of year. October and November are my lucky months. December and Winter are for hibernating. Autumn is about celebration of what has been. And jokes notwithstanding, I honestly do look forward to pumpkin spice sneaking into everything.

Bay Sunset by T.E. MacArthur
Bay Sunset by T.E. MacArthur


*Yes, Earthquake is a season but you must take my word for it if you don’t live out here on the Left Coast.

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