The end of a season
Mark Breen warned us this weekend: a hard freeze coming on Sunday night, followed by a whole week of cold. It made yesterday feel especially beautiful. Ralph and I spent the day scrambling around the yard, finishing all the things that we meant to get to before things started freezing. We mowed the lawn, picked beans and beets, moved firewood, took down one of the hammocks (which involved some tree climbing by me! and a skinned knee or two). It was sunny and beautiful and decidedly not warm. I wore a woolly hat and made five bean soup for dinner. It was a very, very nice end to the weekend.
And then today, I woke up and everything was covered with sparkly gray frost. And I started remembering what I don’t like quite so much about fall. I searched through the mess of gloves, hats, scarves, rain pants and miscellaneous detritus on the top shelf of our hall closet to find a matching pair of gloves. Out came the ice scraper and on went the heat. There is part of me that is not sure I’m much looking forward to winter darkness and cold. It is so dark in the morning now…
I spoke to a friend today who just had a weekend of bad news. The death of an old friend of his, and the impending death of his dog combined with a waterfall of smaller bad events made for a dark Monday for him. There’s something about fall that makes sad news feel even sadder. On my drive home today, I called another friend to check in about getting together later this week, and found her crying because she was about to put her dog to sleep.
I’ve noticed that often people are either animal people or plant people. I have always been in the plant camp, I won’t deny it. But I have, without question, experienced the incredible comfort and companionship that animals can provide. A very dark time in my life was made much more bearable by the sweetness of a cat named Stripey who always seemed to know when I was feeling badly. That cat spent many an afternoon curled up with me while I tried to figure out how to makes changes I needed to make in my life. And the thought of losing our kitty, Maizy, is nearly unbearable to me. These animals can provide a calm within most any storm and I do not take that lightly. So my heart is with both of these friends of mine.
During these brilliant days of fall, the melancholy side of me can’t help but think of an article I read years ago (and I can’t remember where- Northern Woodlands?- if you read it, please point me to it for citation). A Vietnamese family immigrated to Vermont, not too many years after the Vietnam war. Their family had been through hell, survived more loss than I can imagine. When autumn started coming on, the father in the family looked upon the dying leaves as the most intolerable loss. The green world that had been a constant to him throughout his life was dying and it sunk this man into a terrible sadness.
The story stayed with me and I think about it when autumn takes on the edge of winter. And it reminds me that this season, much celebrated in my neck of the woods, can also mean the end of things. The last chapter in a season of green before winter slides in and turns the world gray again. It is the other side of the growth and promise of spring, the anticipation and bubbly excitement of new things coming to life. So I have spent the day thinking about sad things and wishing my friends well in bad times. Tomorrow will no doubt be a little better, but today I take a minute to note the end of the season.