A Love Letter to Autumn

Halloween cat in leavesIt’s no secret: I love autumn. I know a lot of people who hate it, who get depressed by the shorter days, the creeping cold, the leaves changing color and falling to the ground, a metaphor for death.

Not me, though. I love it.

I love that first morning you wake up and there is no haze over the mountains, the air is as crisp as biting into a nice Macintosh apple. You have to put on a jacket to walk the dog, knowing that by the time you get back, you’ll be shedding layers.The leaves scritch across the sidewalk with the blustery wind and crackle underfoot as you swish through them. There’s  the smell of woodsmoke in the air, as well as the smell of dead leaves and rich, damp, earth. A fine layer of frost rimes the grass in the mornings, and etches crystals on your windshield.

Harvest MoonThe moon is a ghostly sickle in twilight sky, or a giant orange orb, or a shining silver globe that bathes everything in a clear, cold light so bright you could read by it, throwing the shadows into sharp-edged relief.

And the night sky. Oh, the night sky in autumn! The stars are so brilliant, and the skies so clear that you can see star fields beyond star fields, as though someone scattered handfuls of diamond of all sizes on a black velvet cloak. There is Cassiopeia, with the running “W” of her throne, and low in the autumn sky, the Big Dipper. There, too, is Venus in the early evening, and sometimes later on Saturn and Jupiter as well. By winter, the familiar sight of Orion’s Belt will greet you, but for now you stand huddled in your coat, watching the horse’s breath come out in plumes, and glance up at the starry sky, grateful for this moment in time. You can hear coyotes howling in the distance, sound traveling in the clear, cold air, and it makes you shiver.

waiting for dinnnerThe afternoons are tinted with a yellow light, so rich and warm as it shines through the nearly translucent leaves and lights them within like Halloween pumpkins. Everything is orange, and gold, and red, colors that do nothing for you at any other time of year but that you embrace come autumn. The horses have become furry; you can place your hand against their skin and have hair come up between your fingers. The dog races ahead on the trail, stopping alertly to listen to the forest, and you listen too. It calls to you, tells you to keep walking, that this day is yours and that you must enjoy it while you can. What other season can give you both leaves and snowflakes falling at the same time? You carry the camera with you wherever you go because you have this compulsion to capture the light, the color, the dog frisking among the leaves and immortalize it. It doesn’t matter that you’ve walked this same path a thousand times before. There is the hope that perhaps this time you will take that one photograph that utterly seizes the essence of the moment and stores it for all eternity. One day, you’ll want to look at these images again and remember how rich and blessed you were in this moment.

Autumn Dog Walk2It does seem to me that autumn is shorter every year. It’s not entirely my imagination–I read a report that stated due to climate change, our autumns are roughly two weeks shorter than they used to be. And I know, too, there is something about the change from October to November which spells the end of autumn for me. The light becomes harsher, slanting into the whiter spectrum of the season to come. The skies are pewter more often than not. The leaves are brown, what few remain on the trees. November comes in with a vengeance, stripping the trees of their glory and spitting sleet in your face. It reminds you that winter is coming. Now, I love winter almost as much as I love autumn. I spend almost as much time with the camera trying to collect images for my memory treasure chest. But I won’t lie, I don’t look forward to the deep cold. It was fifty-five degrees in my bedroom this afternoon. After I turned on the heat, I got it up to fifty-six. Give me another month or so, and I’ll be moaning about how miserable I am. 🙂

Fall roadBut I will always love autumn.

In less poetic news, Walk a Mile was listed as one of October’s Recommended Reads by Prism Book Alliance! It’s up there with some of the best stories from some of the brightest stars in the genre, so I am delighted and pleased (and surprised) to be among such a stellar crowd. If you follow the link and leave a comment at the post, you’ll  be entered into the giveaway for your choice of one of the recommended reads. What are you waiting for? Check it out!

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