Do you like fall? Watching leaves turn, at first painstakingly slow, then gradually picking up speed, till one day you look out over a dusty golden field of corn and my goodness! All around it’s framed in trees splashed with colour, leaves poised, ready, to fly on the next wild autumn wind, like petals flung from a flower girl’s basket: marigold, burnt orange, crimson.
I dislike fall. I procrastinate from it, like I procrastinate from writing, cause it’s hard. Challenging. I fear it. Can I do fall (write something interesting and intelligible) yet again?
I put off fall things, like putting away lawn furniture, turning off outside taps, pulling flowers from window boxes. I check and recheck the weather app. No frost coming. No. Not yet.
Why am I afraid of fall? Perhaps it’s the sickly nostalgia of it, the going-back-to-schoolness, which I haven’t done for so many years, decades even now.
I don’t like death. Fall means winter is coming and winter means death. There. Said it. Does anyone like winter? Death?
Then why do some people like fall? Oh, I know! Men like fall cause it’s football season. And baseball playoffs.
Some women like fall too. My sister and a girlfriend gushed over it the other night: “Oh I just love fall. It’s my favourite season.”
“But why tho?” I asked.
“The crispness of it,” they agreed. “The smell. Of leaves. The sound of them as you’re walking along. And being able to clean your house. When it’s not too hot.”
“Maybe open the window a crack, at night,” my sister added.
Hmmm. Crispness? Despite ongoing hot-flashes, I prefer hot weather. Sandals. Shorts. Tank tops.
“What about winter coming?” I asked them.
“Fall is about the now,” they insisted.
Okay, now what about this? Andy Pudicombe on Headspace, my meditation app, said, “Awareness without compassion is like sunshine without warmth.” Fall is sunshine without warmth, right? Diminishing warmth anyway. Does fall lack compassion?
But have you ever taken the time to seriously regard a tree in full fall splendor? Sometimes the leaves are so brilliant, so fluorescent, so very effervescent, they just shoot straight into your heart, infusing you with heat. With joy! Ah.
So then, fall is the bargain. For summer, for life. It’s a downright shitty deal, though. Every year after livelong year, four seasons remind us there is birth, then a time to really give ‘er, and then a time to cling to life like leaves to trees and then, BAM: bleak cold death.
And crap. Here I am in the autumn of my life, clinging to the tree of life, skin withering, turning colour – and not the glorious shades of a sugar maple either!
But no choice in the matter. Fall. Or death. Or . . . maybe just growing older? Yuval Noah Harari writes in Homo Deus, “In the twenty-first century humans are likely to make a serious bid for immortality.” Holy smokes! Let’s get on that before the Grim Reaper comes calling!
Would you want to live forever? Do you know that when you retire the days get longer? How many more things do you want to learn? How many more things do you have the energy for learning about?
Curiosity. Ah. There’s the key to . . . what? Happiness? Staying interested in life, anyway.
We’re curious as kids. Kids ask a lot of questions. My granddaughter, Naomi, who turns six soon: “Do you like pumpkin? Why not? Do you like working in the kitchen? I like working in the kitchen. Can we have another cookie? Can we bake cookies? Can we colour?”
Later, as Naomi and her older sister, Simone, seven, were colouring, they filled me in on what some of the kids at school are saying.
“They used the ‘L’ word,” said Simone. (When my kids lived under my roof I used that word all the time and it meant ‘laundry’.)
“Yeah?” I said.
“Loser,” said Naomi.
“Oh,” I said, stifling a smile.
“And the ‘H’ word,” said Simone.
“Hate,” said Naomi.
“The ‘S’ word,” said Simone.
I looked up from working on the bread pudding.
“Shut up.” They both said, somberly, shaking their heads.
Shut up. Ha ha. Leaves are falling, my chin is falling (derriere not so much, thanks to Jazzercise). Husha, husha we all fall down. And get up, again and again, until we can’t.
Or we find the cure for mortality.