Summers End

I sniff at the air in the late summer mornings. The day's coming warmth must march over the waves of cooler air that spill out of the mountains in the pre-dawn. Soon, the chill air will crash into the valleys and bowls along the foothills during the night. I often awaken when the air changes, feeling it pouring itself into lower ground. It enters the house in a rush, before the rising sun can reverse the flow, bringing the heat to push against the mountains chill offering. I can feel this, and it energizes my body, calling it from sleep.

Today, I breath in the air deeply, knowing that the cooler air is not just respite from the furnace of the previous summer, but also the harbinger of the months yet to come. As always, autumn begins long before I acknowledge it, sneaking into my bones with a small creak of discomfort here, a cautious tread on the stairs there, as early morning stiffness and inflexible muscles react to the crispy night air.

Several years ago my body began to remind me of each of my accidents and each thoughtless act that I had so casually believed I had overcome. Today, each of the adventures of my younger years has left me with it's own special reminder. My fingers ache in the middle of the night when the barometer changes, usually in the fall and winter. I feel like a human weather machine, although not one as glamorous as that lovely glass one sold at Christmas time for the relative who has too much stuff.

Long before any snow falls we get ready to slow down. We take more time with daily things... The garden is now boring and browning, the birds too are abandoning their vacation homes. The days do not beckon with their promise of continuous sunshine and light, but warn of the recession of time. Children do not sleep till noon, but noisily and rebelliously queue up to enter school. Each moment spent will not be repeated, ever; the early dusk encroaches; your work will be left to another if it is not done, and no doubt there will be much left for another day.

It is in the hiatus, the lull between these two worlds, that the transition is felt so keenly. No longer kept edgy with the fecundity of the summer, or the passionate promises of spring, the later months beckon with a bony finger, toward the rest that awaits; and yet, before that sleep there is time to revel in the letting go, the surrender and forgiveness that is fall.

We breathe slower toward the end of September than when the days still lingered hot on the tongue. Our natural rhythms slow to prepare out bodies to survive winters, that human remnant of our animal natures, a need to hibernate. We begin to yearn for soups and casseroles, warmth and comfort; and we know that the days are not too far off. Planting is risky, foolish perhaps. Nature grows slowly, the earth cools below my feet. The smell of fall, that crisp overtone floating on warmer under-notes of the remaining summer air, is so intoxicating, and yet is duplicated no other time. It is unique and it is fleeting, we are caught in the absolute awareness of life's transience.

Finally, there is time to find some contentment with the days that remain, time to mend and complete what needs to be taken care of before winter sets in. For winter will indeed come, yet again, to us, before long. Nose in the air, yes, it is time for fall. Breathe deeply.