C.W. Gusewell


Fleeting autumn renews the soul

Autumn has arrived softly. No sudden storms. No untimely frosts. Just the shortening days, the evening rush to darkness, the sense of things concluding.

Outside my window the flowers struggle to prolong the season of their glory. The hydrangea has managed to produce one last fat, pink blossom. The head-high thicket of Knock Out roses is absolutely full of scarlet buds, which just might hurry to open before the weather truly turns.

I’ve always especially relished this time of year.

Spring, I know, is considered by poets and gardeners to be the time of new beginnings. The greening of the land is a metaphor for rebirth, fresh starts.

But for me, October has always been when everything is new. That has to do, I believe, with the cadences of boyhood and the remembered events that autumn once contained.

There was the annual adventure of school resuming. New teachers, new classmates, new prospects for boyish infatuation. And, each fall, the contests on frozen fields – a game I loved and played, though with no distinction, being too small and too slow afoot.

Tomorrow a storm may come. But in the brilliance of this morning, as I sit to work, there’s no hint of approaching weather.

A little group of yellow sulphur butterflies just passed over the yard. And two provident squirrels are busy collecting for their winter larder the marble-size fruits fallen from the crab apple tree.

The Brooklyn daughter is home for a 10-day visit, and we are hoping these fine days will hold long enough for a visit to the farm and cabin and a bit of time on our lake together.

I know very well the fish are active and feeding because a friend and I were there not long ago and found them willing. In no more than an hour on the water we caught and released six. Two of those struck together on the same lure.

But sweet as autumn is, like youth it’s much too short.

In the space of a single night an arctic gale can come howling down from the north to glaze windows, ice the roads and make comfort a distant memory.

That’s the inevitable consequence of living at this latitude. Other people may make a different choice.

We’ve had friends who did not appreciate the variety of seasons, preferring the year-round sameness of endless summers and sun-kissed shores.

So they fled west, and in surprising numbers their lives came sadly apart.

I say let winter have its way. We’re staying – and staying together.