southernbeau

Making sense of the non-sensical world of American politics

Falling For Fall…Again!

There was a time, surely in the not too distant past, when the Fall months represented a magical time in my mind’s eye. I can remember a time when I was smitten as a kitten for Fall. She might well have been my first love. Certainly, she was my favorite of the four seasons.

Fall meant a reprieve from the harsh, unrelenting summer sun; indeed, a time when the sun itself transitions from foe to friend. Instead of crossing the street simply to ensure a walk in the shade, folks take pains to be exposed to the sunshine – walking with their heads tilted skyward as if smelling a batch of freshly baked cookies.

In fact, as I write these very words, I am happily drenched in a sea of sunlight, not a cloud to be found in the morning sky. It is September 19th, and these are not the piercing, penetrating beams of July and August from which we seek to escape (if not on a beach). This sun has mellowed; it is inviting and docile; its strength not what it once was, only weeks before.

The Autumnal Equinox is still a few days away, but for all intents and purposes, at least here in the Northeast, it is Fall. There is a crispness, dryness and coolness to the air, one that can be tasted with each breath. Even in New York City, it feels clean.

So, why, then, with all its apparent beauty, do I give Fall such a hard time? The short, yet unsatisfying, answer is that Fall, for me, is the gateway to Winter – that bleak and ruthless segment of the Gregorian calendar when time all but stands still. True, the vibrant colors of the metamorphic Autumn leaves put on quite a spectacular show. But it is also true that those same leaves are changing colors precisely because they are dying.

Perhaps it is this stark dichotomy of images painted on the landscape of my mind that so unnerves me about Fall. Or, perhaps, it could be the incongruity of clashing emotions between the natural, inherent beauty of Fall and the cold ugliness and depravity of Winter. Mother Nature’s ultimate paradox.

What’s worse still, Fall is callously and intentionally hiding something behind her mask of alluring landscapes and pleasant, sun-splashed days. She is hiding what is to come, what is tucked neatly around the corner, never saying a word. Whatever it is, it clearly presents an unyielding barrier to my fully embracing Fall and all she clearly has to give. Each year as summer fades, this inescapable reality haunts my very being and begs a simple question: why? Why, for me, has Autumn become Winter’s fall guy?

As we quickly approach the advent of this next Fall, I have made a pact with myself to dig for an answer to this confounding question from deep within my own psyche. Doing so has been at once a revelation and a source of discomfort. It is disconcerting to realize that my holding a grudge against Fall for Winter’s transgressions is illogical at best, and vindictive at worst. It is tantamount to loathing recess in grade school due to its being immediately followed by math class. On a much larger – and darker – scale, it is akin to one being unable to enjoy life while being dogged by the knowledge that it will ultimately end in death.

I have long been drawn to, and influenced by, the American Transcendentalists – Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Melville, among others – who celebrated individualism with its inherent self-wisdom, and the life-long, perpetual search to better oneself. For the Transcendentalists, nature and the soul were inextricably linked – bound by the comfort and divinity found in the rhythms and ever-changing seasons of the natural world. What would Emerson – who entitled his most renowned essay “Nature” – say about my loathing of Fall? And what of my soul?

It is settled then. This Fall will see me accept her with open arms, taking in all her beauty and enjoying all her splendor – all this despite the darkness which lies at the end of her tunnel. I will no longer hold Fall culpable for its close proximity to Winter, through no fault of her own. I will – like the rational, enlightened (dare I say Transcendentalist?) thinker that I am – disassociate Fall from Winter, one from the other. It is the least I can do for an old love.

It is said that all good things must come to an end. If true, then Fall is only held hostage to, as we all are, the natural order of things. Thus, she should not be held in contempt for simply adhering to this universal truth. And like any true love, Fall will show up again, every so often, just when you most need her. It is September 19th, and Fall is indeed on her way. This go around, I am eagerly awaiting her arrival. I think I am falling for Fall again!

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September 19, 2015 Posted by | Autumn, Fall, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Philosophy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Seasons, Transcendentalism, Walt Whitman | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment