Bare feet retreat to woollen socks,
and darkness falls on younger clocks
as August sees her summer leaves
awake in orange glow.
It seems every end of summer begins a season of anticipation–four, blissful months of anticipation. September starts the school year new; October is a house full of goblins counting down to one big haunting; November, the turkey season beckons, and then, December’s darkness bookends the days towards solstice, and Advent leans into Christmas.
But summer! Oh how the summer burns down into embers, and how the first cold mornings awaken something inside from a deep, forgotten slumber. Fall is the best time for good beer. Bring the spice. Soon it will be okay to turn the oven on and bake–it won’t warm the house too much like it does in July. I cannot wait for a day cool enough for chopping wood.
I cannot wait for football–not that the sport itself means much to me–but the games themselves, the communities of people together, the time for wearing college sweatshirts again.
I cannot wait for the first apple pie. For the early sunset. For the school bell to clang across the courtyard. For the temperature of society to cool from summer frenzy. For the sense of setting to task. For a tall pot of stew.
Fall, and its slip into early winter, chock-full of images: the orange crust of pumpkin, the stiffness of pine come Christmas, the cheer of people shopping downtown, the glow of warm houses, the laughter of family wrapped around a dining room table. The sights and smells that fade carefully, slowly, like the burn of strong drink.
Sweaters and scarfs, fight songs and carols. Spirit and spirits and toasts all along. Time for campfires and time spent around them, strangers becoming closer friends, friends becoming family. Love is the undercurrent for this season.
Onward, onward to the end of the year, onward to renewal, onward with a sense of drawing this term to a close and all the bad that’s come with it. Autumn slips in like a good friend you haven’t seen in years at a party, the one who knows your glazy-eyed shouts of surprise are absolutely genuine.
By now, the years have grown shorter. There is too much to cherish and not enough time. But fall–fall slows us down, brings true the fluid motions that languished in the burning summer. Fall reunites us, it inspires us and gives us marching orders towards December. We toil away renewed, we laugh at that which frightens us, we give thanks, and we gather in awesome wonder at the child-turned-savior sent from on high. All of these things can be seen from my Labor Day weekend perch. If fall had an archway, this weekend would be it.
If you want a great poem to accompany this, albeit one that shares a different perspective about the season, check out Archibald MacLeish’s “Immortal Autumn.” In it, MacLeish sings that fall is “the human season.” (H/T to my friend, former professor, and talented poet Catherine Carter.)