Welcome, Autumn

True confessions: I have always been a summer-lover, especially as a child. Summer: that glorious season in which time slows, dilates, and extends. The days are longer, filled with opportunities for all sorts of indolence and mild malfeasance (let’s face it, you can get away with a lot more when your parents are drained and limp with humidity).

Summer was jumping off the high dive at the local pool with my heart in my throat, it was exploring the woodsy hill behind my house (certain that Bigfoot lived there), it was riding bikes, it was sleeping over with friends who had HBO (gasp!), it was parties at the lake, it was “dragging Grand”. It was the music of cicadas, and it was vacations with my mother’s family in Texarkana, my favorite place in the whole world as a kid (it has dropped to second place, after the beach, just about any beach).

But that was then, and this is now. Now, I have become one of those adults drained by humidity and longing for the crisp snap of an Autumn morning. And then it comes, overnight, stealing over the trees and settling down. I awaken to the sound of a marching band and am filled with melancholy.

Why does fall make us melancholy?

I think it is the suddenness of it. The other three seasons emerge slowly, stretching and yawning and rubbing their eyes. They take a while to get going. Their conversations might go like:

Spring: “Oh, hey Winter. Mind if I sit for a while. No, no, you continue with your business. Maybe I can just…butt in every once in a while. Is that cool? Sweet.”

But fall just bursts upon summer, chasing it away like a flea-bitten cat on his doorstep. I drink my coffee and stare out the screen door as the rain falls, the cool, moist air like a welcome friend who tells you he’ll take the kids for a while, you just relax.

Fall is a reminder that time passes, that nothing is forever, and that we shouldn’t get too comfortable with the way things are. It urges us to cuddle with those we love and tell them how we feel before it’s too late. It makes us look around and think “where the heck did this year go?” and we resign ourselves to the fact that we are, indeed, growing older.

But it also says “It’s okay, don’t panic. I brought pumpkins and firelight and crickets and corn mazes and Halloween and Thanksgiving with me. Let’s have some fun.”

I wrote a poem in honor of fall last year, when I first realized my opinion of it had changed. I hope you enjoy it.


I swing the back door wide
pull the screen closed
turn back to coffee
and quiet reflection

Fall tiptoes in
damp earth clinging to his galoshes
he creeps behind me
and puts his hands, cool and smooth,
over my eyes

Guess who? he says
and I hear the scurry of squirrels robbing my feeder
filling up for winter’s long night

While the geese wing their way overhead
as the smell of woodsmoke drifts from a neighbor’s house

I say
you scoundrel
here you are again
bringing sweaters out of closets
and woolen socks from drawers

come sit a spell

He winks and bows in his red and orange coat
ruddy cheeks round and smiling as he takes a chair beside me

I ask him about the laden apple orchard
the glowing pumpkin patches
and how the harvest is coming along Outside
the blushing trees silently disrobe
the rabbit’s coat grows thick
wild larders fill with acorns and I
link arms with autumn
as we skip down the leaf-littered lane.