September 21. My favorite day of the year. Even though it will be at least 80 degrees today, it is officially autumn and I rejoice in the new season.
Autumn swoops in and I move into another realm of living. My adrenaline kicks in. My energy level bursts forth. My desire to get things done, to start new projects and complete old ones, to write, create, and just live all fire their jets at the same time and I am a rocket ready to take off.
It's 60 degrees right now, at 5am. It's almost dark out at this hour of the morning; the stars are slightly visible and the moon gives a silvery glow to the autumn clouds moving in. The trees make noise in the wind, like the rustling of paper, and when the leaves move the birds move with them; crows and doves and gulls taking flight, spreading their wings against the lightening sky.
A few leaves fall to the ground; they are tinged with the first yellows of fall. The dark yellows come first and its just on the edges of the leaves, as if the weather didn't have enough time to fulyl work its magic before these early leaves became victim to the season. Soon, the reds will appear, then the browns and oranges and the trees will look like a forest fire, all those burning colors set against the grayish morning skies of October.
The trip to the nursery comes soon enough. Pumpkins, bales of hay, mums in colors that mimic the trees, a few scarecrows and a wooden black cat complete the package. I used to have a small, plastic cauldron filled to the brim with gourds of ridiculous shapes and sizes, but the squirrels would come and have a feast, leaving my cauldron overturned as if a beggar witch had come in the evening looking for scraps. Now, I just buy a few gourds and throw them right in the garden. The squirrels thank me by leaving my pumpkins alone.
It's neer too early to decorate for the upcoming season. perhaps in the old neighborhood, I would be mocked for the September 21st arrival of dancing skeletons in the window and fiery mums lining the walkway. But on this block my penchant for fall has been rivaled; the neighbors across the street have already erected their scarecrows and lined up their jack-o-lanterns. They all stare at me as I pull back the curtain, grinning, welcoming me into their world.
This week, everything I buy at the nursery and everything I have stored in the garge wil be set up on the lawn in a precise formation. It is my homage to the time of the season. To the crisp air, the incredible colors, the creepy fall moon, the witches and goblins that haunt the neighborhood on the last day of the month, the readiness.
And what am I ready for? For everything. For trading in my tank tops for sweatshirts, for taking the air conditioners out and putting the storm windows in. For putting the cover on the pool and the summer toys in the shed and dragging out the fake spiderwebs and well-worn scarecrows. For the anticipation of everything that comes after October; apple pies, family gatherings, hay rides, Christmas lists, the shopping. The last of the leaves finally letting go of the trees, leaving them looking like bony fingers pointing at dull grey skies, until one of those fingers pokes a hole in the clouds and the snow comes down, bringing with it winter and hot chocolate and warm fires.
It is fall. My calendar does not have to tell me this. When I walk outside at night and the wind is an old, dangerous witch whispering secrets in my ear, cold and ticklish, it's time. I feel my first goose-bump shiver of fall. The anticipation of spending an entire month soaking up the finest artwork nature has to offer, backdropped with a barely audible, but fully present, crackle and hiss of electricty in the air; this is what being alive, being in the here and now is all about.
It is autumn and I am fully alive.