Trees burst with yellow, so dust to dust.
Maine sighs the last taste of summer from its mouth.
We bundle ourselves fast beneath our jackets and steel ourselves against the growing hum of winter weather. Rain threatens ice. We breathe fog into the cold air.
I am at peace during this time of year. Loose fitting sweaters hang placid from my frame, I can tuck a scarf beneath my chin. A hat pressed against my head. I am at home underneath big red maple trees. I like the stories New England hauntings read aloud from dog-eared books with broken bindings. I like sweet apple cider. Round pumpkins with funny grins appear on old porches. Chimneys exhale, their ragged and tired throats expel pale grey smoke. Boots clatter and children fetch their costumes, laughing into a dark night sky.
I think my voices like it too.
Whispering in awe at the beauty, they too steel themselves in anticipation, covering my brain in a soft blanket. Soon it will be winter.
Winter means depression. Or worsening depression anyway.
But right now it’s autumn and there are pumpkin pies and ghost stories to be had. A cozy night clasps in her hand’s hot chamomile tea.
She says, “drink up.” And I do. I sleep best this time of year. Buried beneath a mound of comforters the cool air slows my too fast heart.
“slow down,” says the cool autumn air, “slow down. Don’t miss this beauty.”
Standing at the base of an old maple tree, arms wrapped around her trunk my fingers cannot reach. A great, wide, trunk juts off into the sky. It’s lived three or four times the length of my own life. Each autumn she dies and in the spring she is reborn.
“look,” she mutters, her big branches shudder in the cold, “at my resiliency,” her leaves fall and pile at my feet, “I can show you how to be this way.”
Autumn is, after all, a practice in the acceptance of our own shortcomings.
“we all need time,” she whispers absently into the breeze, “to rest.”
All the pumpkins smile. A black cat, who is not mine, yawns on my porch and stretches to life. A big tom cat, who knows it too. He lets out a silly noise from between his teeth. Cats rest when they need it, which is often enough. Taking cat naps in the apricot autumn sunshine.
“winter is for resting,” says the nighttime, her body stretched across the sky.
“and in the spring,” thinks the cat, “we will stretch to life again.”
The cool air captivates me. It winds me down until I slow.
“winter is alright,” I say.
The cat agrees, and then purrs lazily, “don’t fear time for recuperation.”
The trees shift, “we couldn’t go on so long without it,” they say, their voices not unlike the wind. Talking all at once.
Bittersweet and rose and wine. Cherries and chestnuts. The colors this time of year are without names. Wordless colors tossed across treetops and tree-middles and all the way across mountain ranges which will soon be powdered in light, quiet snow. And against the blue sky leaf peepers gaze, and birds fly south, and squirrels gather acorns, and the resident porcupine steals corn cobs from the aged corn fields. Cobwebs gather and the furnace kicks on. Each morning grows colder. Hot soups in hot steamy kitchens are stirred. Ghosts come out at night and stand around their ghostly fires that burn the color of nothingness.
Everything is still except a lone buck that stands at the edge of the woods, hooves stamping in the dirt. Antlers like strong arms grow stronger with each exercise. He grunts and twists his head to look into the forest. A great silence beats the within it. Suddenly turns and runs against the winter wind. Dark eyes like two black marbles inside his head.
The trees shudder and the pumpkins grin and the cat is lazy and warm and nighttime with her heavy arms comes earlier now. And against the dark a deer races. Heart pounding beneath his chest muscle. His bovine skeleton will come apart and vanish into the soil before the spring.
“rest,” says the cat, “you’re tired.”
The deer races.
The deer races.
Behind him, the forest turns pale and blushes at her naked body. Fall is her favorite season to be naked. Autumn reassures us that spring will come. After all, you cannot have life without death.