I love fall. I don't know why, but it seems like a time of awakening, ironically. When the world is preparing itself for harvest, for closing down its growth, for hunkering down to endure the winter, I am thinking of newness, of opportunity.
Maybe that's because I associate fall with a new school year, the start of a new career, the start of a new phase of my life. That's maybe not much of a surprise, given that I spent 24 years in school (not counting kindergarten and internship). But beyond that, it seems as if the big significant events of my life tend to initiate in the autumn, though fruition may be a long time coming.
It may also be that I track more with the animal cycles than with plant cycles or the phases of weather and the cycles of light and dark. This is the time of rut, when animals are initiating next year's life, preparing to create it in the secret depths of winter, to build it in the dark mysteries of long winter nights, to bring it out in the spring, new and surprising. You never know what it is you'll get; which ewes will twin, what color the lambs will be.
And I suppose, in its way, this is when the plants are seeding in next year's growth as well, sinking their resources into the ground for next year's growth.
So perhaps it's not surprising that for me fall is a time of expansion, of lightness, of anticipation and excitement and bright, active energy.
Mind you, it doesn't hurt that it's unconscionably gorgeous here in the fall. The air is crisp and sweet, sometimes softened by rain, sometimes honed to a sharp edge by the bite of impending winter. Fall is very often sunny and pleasant, warm with Indian summer, washed with light. This year in particular it seem that the flowers are bursting with last-minute glory, perhaps making up for time lost in the chill of this unusually cool summer. I defy anyone to look around at this and not feel at least a little bit of peace.
For instance: The other day I went to my hairdresser. I love my hairdresser. She gives me a head massage before she starts, and her salon (Studio 9, in case you need a haircut and a head massage) is in a small, converted house on the edge of a lake. So while she massages my scalp she turns my chair to look out at the lake, where the ducks are dabbling industriously and the gold of the turning leaves is reflected in the water.
It's soothing, to have someone massage your scalp in a leisurely sort of way, knowing that you have nothing to do for the next hour except allow someone to pamper you and make you look spiff. Add to that the beauty of the lake, the pleasant happy industry of the ducks, and it approaches a sort of cheerful floating bliss.
It's not just Studio 9 that's gorgeous this time of year. No matter where I go - the gym, my favorite sandwich shop, the drive to work, the store, my house - it's pretty right now.
That (above) is the view from the gym. This (below) is the view from The Krazy Moose, where you can get The. Best. Sandwiches. Ever. Those are the Talkeetna mountains reflected in the lake. One of the most excellent lunchtimes imaginable is to sit on the grass under the birch tree and eat a turkey/bacon/avocado sandwich whilst looking at that view. Slowly. So as to savor the entire experience.
Still, if you want the WHOLE spa experience, you should also include a visit to my dentist, where you can A) sit in the massage chair until they're ready for you, B) have a hot, fragrant wrap for your neck, C) get your hands paraffin-dipped and wrapped in little towels to keep them warm, D) look out at yet another lake just beyond your feet, E) have a really pleasant time chatting with the hygienist, the dentist and the receptionists and F) get really top-notch dental care. Plus - have I mentioned this? - you feel like you've been to the spa.
So let's review: The proper steps are: Get up a little late, go to Studio 9 for a head massage and a hair cut, then go to Dr. H's office for the spa treatment (oh, yeah, and a teeth cleaning and exam), then go to the Krazy Moose for lunch. Then you will be toooo relaxed to go to the gym so you might as well go home and look for swans on your lake, which, if all goes according to plan, will look like this.
So, we may have a long winter ahead, and we may have cold and ice and long dark nights and short frigid days ahead, but the summer has its compensations; light so long and deep that you forget that there even was a winter, beauty everywhere you look, air so soft and rich and tender that you feel you can almost dine upon it. And at the end of that, when it starts to wane and you're tempted to go melancholy and sad over the loss of summer.... then is when that crisp energy of fall starts up, and even if you are heading into winter and dark, you are at least going out in a blaze of glory.