The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Autumn is ‘icumin in, lude sing – “goddamn!”’
And I mean that. The damn Virginia Creeper, normally vibrant and pleasing in autumn hasn’t even turned to its incarnadine best yet, but it feels like November outside. Gale-force winds and pelting, pissing rain. You see, we had virtually no summer out here on the coast this year, and now it is prematurely turning ugly.
Of all the four seasons I will readily attest that autumn is my least favorite. And when it comes early, as in this year, it’s like being kicked in the meteorological cojones (less painful to be kicked in the metaphorical ones than the real ones, I’ll agree). Admittedly, a ‘good’ autumn, with nice vibrant colors is agreeable enough, and such an autumn can be endured, but rarely cherished. It cannot be cherished because it’s followed by the evils of winter. As spring is rare prime-rib and summer is garlic-buttered lobster, autumn is the ‘liver’ of seasons. Not unspeakably awful (I quite like liver with bacon and onions) but rarely inspired. It all begins with the Labor Day weekend. No matter how long we’ve been away from school, with Labor Day comes the feeling that it’s all over. That was it. Summer, that blessed season, is gone and, to take liberties with Shelley, “If autumn comes, can winter be far behind?”
We fool ourselves with autumn. We fool ourselves because the season is a chameleon. It’s a two-faced tramp of a season. One day it is bright and crisp and sunny, even after a frosty morning, and the leaves are swirling about our feet, and the kids in the park across the street are playing touch football or soccer, and all seems relatively right with the world. But, the next day the southeast winds announce their presence at 3 a.m. and by the time of arising, the rain is pounding horizontally against the front window and the gloom never reaches the candlepower of a summer twilight. And then one day, in November usually, the days of the southeast winds mass together in a continuum, and sometimes there is sleet mixed in with the rain. True autumn has begun.
Meanwhile, the trees and Virginia Creeper have by then been denuded of those lovely colors and all is dull drabs and browns and the only consolation that manifests itself is that at least the lawn needn’t be cut. Perversely, this realization only leaves me with a longing for the first cutting of springtime because when that happens I’ll know I’ve made it through.
Of course, by the time Scorpio moves into Sagittarius territory then Christmas, New Year’s and all that overrated and stressful stuff rears an ugly hydra head. No, I’m sorry, I do not like Christmas. Oh, I like ‘my’ Christmas, and ‘our’ Christmas, but I must confess I loathe what the season has become. And New Year’s is, to me, beyond comprehension as anything resembling festivity, but is otherwise a mandated two-bit drunk in which one is forced to kiss people one would rather not, rather than getting to kiss (and/or more) with people one would delight in.
I have often wondered what it would be like to live in a place where there is no autumn. Hawaii, for example. I think it would be heavenly. Albeit Hawaii does have actual seasons and the plumeria isn’t always in bloom, but there is little drama about it. The Trade Winds and storms shift to the north of the islands and there is more rain – sometimes much more rain – but it never gets biting and cold, and if one wants a day on the sand, one merely goes to the south of the islands and the water will be as delicious in November as it was in August.
A few years ago we were sitting in an outside coffee joint in Princeville on Kauai. It was April. The girl serving the coffee offered the thought that it was a beautiful day that day and that it “finally feels like spring.” I was amazed. But it’s all relative, I guess.
Now, even though I thoroughly believe in living in the moment, I do have the consoling thought that in a little more than three months it will be January 1st and I can genuinely look forward to heavenly spring. Today I am merely trying to hold my own and carpe diem as much as possible.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Creeper needs to start turning just to lift my spirits a smidgen.