Appreciating the season

Oct 18, 2008 at 8:50 p.m. ET

We've had some beautiful days lately. The warm temperatures and blue skies of our Indian Summer almost belied the fact of fall. But this morning it was overcast as I drove down the road, and my world seemed to glow with yellows and oranges and reds on the trees. I'd noticed that trees were changing, of course, but the intensity and consistency of that change struck me will full force.

Mother and Daughter in the Fall
These days between Indian Summer and the real chill of fall are like an idyll. These are the moments before the preparation for what is coming when we revel in the beauty of our region. It's a poignant time, too.

Slowing down

So many things, it seems, are winding down. The farmer's markets are selling their last squash and chard, the sun it setting earlier, baseball has just a handful more games. The critters in the yard are frantically gathering food for the winter and storing it in the condos they've built in the landscaping (despite our best efforts).

The trees know earlier that most that winter is coming and it must turn energies inward. The tree walls off the nutrient paths for the leaves, they turn these amazing colors, then drop. It's a vibrant, beautiful death of a part of the tree for the sake of the future of the whole tree.

Thank goodness we don't need to be quite so dramatic in our seasonal slowdown. We'll have a couple more weekends of yard work, bundling up the planting beds for winter, putting away the outdoor furniture and raking up the colorful leaves. We'll close up the storm windows, get out the warmer clothes and relish quiet evenings with mulled cider.

Speeding up

While the physical world around us slows down, the inner life speeds up. Just like the trees turn inward, so do we. School work, and thus brain work, intensifies. We seem to do more planning in the cooler months. Planning for future house work, planning for future vacations, general family goals, all that. While we are still active, the balance tilts toward reflection.

Within a few days the speed at which the leaves fall will speed up, too. Just as the colors of the leaves struck me today, so, too, will the bare tree branches shock me a in a few days or a week, and the flatness of the drawing winter light. The transition is swift and sure.

In the colder months, when we turn inward, I think more about how the kids have grown and changed in the last year. How much taller, more articulate, morphing into the people they will become. Like trees shed leaves, they shed their youthful selves a little more each day, each month, each season.

Until that moment, I'll hold onto the glow of this day.

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