I used to hate autumn because of the uncertainty. You see, I like extremes, probably because my attitude and personality lend themselves to hot or cold but never lukewarm. I believe there is something in the Bible about that too, not that it’s important, but it did come back to me right now. Anyway, I hated autumn, so when the days started getting just a wee bit shorter, when daylight savings time came and everything went backwards, I would cringe and hope to be able to hibernate until winter came.
Then I moved to Tennessee, and autumn is just an extension of summer down there, the line clearly delineated when it became winter time, and only then. That’s when the leaves finally dropped and bloomed into so many different colors on the ground. It was weird that first winter because I’m used to leaves in October, not December, but I guess with the lack of snow it made more sense that way. I would walk through the park, and on the sidewalks, shuffling my feet and reveling in the leaves so late. It was like Tennessee knew exactly how I felt about fall and stole the best part of it for my favorite season instead.
If Tennessee knew how I felt, then New York state thought it was funny to toy with me. Leaves in August. Leaves in September. Leaves in October. And the colors weren’t nearly as bright and vibrant. It’s almost as if someone told the New York Autumn Leaves that they were dead, and that they should resemble that after they fell. These browns and dark oranges quickly got boring as the months dragged on and they were still underfoot. They did absolutely nothing to stem my hatred for this temperate season.
But I saw a painting a few months ago, or once upon at time — I don’t recall which it was anymore — that showed the vibrant colors of the leaves that I remembered from my youth, when everything was a mystery and I knew absolutely nothing about chlorophyll and the glory of the natural universe. All I knew is that the autumn leaves were beautiful and I wanted to be as beautiful as they were. The painting reminded me of that simpler time, when extremes weren’t all to be praised, and when temperance was as glorious as taking a deep breath of that sweet, chilly air.