Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In the air


Summer is over. It won't be official for another week or so but the signs are there; it's undeniable. This morning, I got out of bed, shivering against the chill that crept in overnight. I pulled on jeans over legs that have lived in the sunlight for the past six months, not caring that my tan has already begun to fade. I walked outside and a strange wind was blowing, lifting my hair up off my neck. The light was different too, the shadows in different places. The air felt charged, electric; notice that the change had already begun.

When I was little, the trees told us when summer was over. We watched them go from green to red, orange, yellow; brilliant starbursts of color. Eventually, they faded to brown and fell, one by one, until the trees were bare. My cousins and I would rake them into piles and then run towards them, waiting until the last second to jump. In that brief moment before we landed, there was sheer joy.

We spent hours this way, building piles and then destroying them, the leaves working their way into our hair, down our shirts. I loved the sound they made, a sharp crackle, and their crisp, faintly sweet scent. Eventually, my granny would drag us out and then set fire to our handiwork. We would stand watching, listening to the leaves hiss and pop until there was nothing left but smoke and ash. We never thought of the trees, who shed their beauty so quickly, never wondered if they mourned the loss.

The trees here are different. There are no seasons here, only degrees of heat. The trees don't register the change and so they remain stupidly, faithfully green. Autumn, to them, is a brief moment, a pause between the heat of summer and the gray skies of winter. Only the pine trees know something is different, their thin needles fading, stiff and brown. This is the time of year when I miss the mountains most, when they look as if they're on fire, burning with color.

What fall used to mean: plaid skirts and wool tights; Halloween and hay rides; picking apples with my mother; walnuts dropping like rocks against the tin roof of our house; the sound of shotguns announcing the beginning of hunting season; chopping wood and canning vegetables; sealing up the windows in advance of the long winter ahead.

Now it means sleeping with the windows open. It means windblown cheeks and chapped lips. It means the state fair, corn dogs and cotton candy. It means hot apple cider and new boots and finding the perfect pair of jeans. It means learning to be alone, learning to enjoy the pleasure of my company.

I'm not sorry to see the summer go. There is only the future for me now; there is no looking back. A change is coming; it's in the air. And I am running towards it, eyes open, ready to jump.

12 Comments:

Blogger briliantdonkey said...

beautifully written as always! Fall here is about a 35 minute period on the second saturday in september. Varying degrees of heat",,,,,,I know what you mean, but I for one like it so no complaints here.

BD

9/13/2006 1:28 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Very nice Rebecca. I remember autumn in Ohio, huge piles of leaves, no fences, apples falling from trees, the rich smell of cut grass and drying leaves. I'm in New England now but it isn't the same.

9/13/2006 6:50 AM  
Anonymous fringes said...

I love stories that begin "When I was little..."

Nice post, Rebecca. I am on that search for the perfect pair of jeans, just like you said. It's funny that you wrote about it today.

I am never sorry to see the summer go, either.

9/13/2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger Michael Thomas said...

Rich and expressive, as usual, Rebecca. Houston has even less of a winter. If we're lucky, the humidity drops with the temperature. When it doesn't, it just turns chilly into bone chilling.
You've got to work with what you have, and it seems that you are adapting well. On with the change.

Michael

9/13/2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger twitches said...

That change of seasons IS an exciting time. Good on you for embracing it with optimism!

9/13/2006 5:01 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

I smelled autumn while reading this, and I felt so happy because I can't wait. Thank You :).

9/13/2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger Flood said...

I'm with you guys on waving good-bye to summer. I'm all for apple cider, sweaters and roaring fireplaces.

9/13/2006 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Being a carpenter and working outside in the heat, wind, rain, the fall was a welcome relief. I could dress for that, however, they would look askew at you if you worked naked in the heat. Iloved starting out with alight jacket, and then strip down to a shirt during the mid day sun. However, the 4o below temps were not far away either. So this was like a festival of colors for a brief period.
jimmy

ps, I switched to new beta format, and it is a challenge leaving a comment. Might just have to be anonymous. But it just me - jimmy

9/13/2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Thank you everyone for your comments and forgive me if I haven't been around to comment on your blog recently. I've been in a lurking mood and haven't had much to say.

9/13/2006 10:00 PM  
Blogger Marcail said...

A very nice salute to the Fall season. I'm fortunate to witness four season's rise and demise.

9/13/2006 10:22 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

Fall has always been my favorite season. I loved the way the air smelled dry leaves, and cinnamon, for some reason there was always cinnamon - at least when I could smell it and not the feed lots that surrounded my hometown, but even now there's a bit of nostalgia for that midwest cologne. Back when I enjoyed my birthday, autumn always meant my birthday, and that weird time of year when I could get away with wearing shorts and a big wool sweater.

It's already cooler here now, but in KS, you never know.

9/14/2006 7:25 AM  
Blogger Shadowrite said...

Oh boy, this is just beautiful. I especially loved your last paragraph.

9/15/2006 8:13 AM  

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