Every year that I have lived in Pennsylvania, this weird thing has happened right around October 15th.
For weeks now, we have been seriously bracing ourselves for fall. My sweater collection is washed and in full rotation, and I wear exclusively wool socks. The heat has come on a couple times, and and the furnace filter has been addressed. We have a date on the calendar for putting plastic on the windows.
But suddenly, we get a break. There are a few glorious days in the middle of October that are so warm I can sit on the porch in a tee shirt. It isn’t warm enough to call “Indian Summer” (though that term makes my PC-o-meter squirm anyway), but it is warm enough to be shocking when we’re already waking up in the dark.
In college, it was always homecoming weekend. I’d be out there, manning either the yearbook table or the SGA table (depended on the year) above the soccer field, wearing a short sleeves, while the trees were reaching peak color. My campus was in the middle of a watershed, and fall made me pinch myself that I was allowed to live in a place so beautiful. It was like a little miracle, and it cemented in my brain this fact: The plunge into winter isn’t really at our doorstep until we’ve had our deep breath in October.
Yesterday and today have been like that here. The trees vary from hillside to hillside, some still mostly green, some already starting to bare, and some that perfect combination of poplar’s dirty yellow, maple’s red and orange, and oak’s persistent dark green.
Seeing those hillsides makes me a miser for beauty. I drink in the landscape with my eyes as if it will disappear if I blink. I want to suck it all in, bottle it in my camera, as if anything but being in that moment could replicate that experience. As if it wasn’t the very fleeting nature of this beauty that makes it so much more valuable.
I thought I would do better this year. Not be so grasping, but just be with my beloved trees, take in their glorious moment, and let them go. But now that we are on the cusp, now that the moment is here, I can’t avoid the melancholy. Perhaps its because these two warm days have been so overcast, so I feel a little cheated. Perhaps it’s because I wish I had been outside more last week, glutting myself earlier at this buffet of color.
But it will never be easy. Seeing and savoring and letting go something so dear yet so short. The pain is part of the joy. But it is also what makes me look forward to a world with no sin, no death, no winter… yet somehow no loss of the full goodness of what God made. I can’t imagine what that will be like, but I know it to be inevitable.
In violent contrast, I was in no way sad that these socks were over. “Canal du Midi” from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush: they are a completely unobjectionable pair of socks. I have no negative comment to make on them. They had just the right balance of plain and patterned knitting. I made the leg a little short, because I was a tiny bit worried about running out of yarn.
They only suffered from being knit by me, as I am sick of socks. It was not their fault that I hated them.
The Koigu KPPPM was a delightfully engaging color, if an unusual one for me, and it fits right in with the scenery. Ravelry tells me I got it at Yarns Unlimited, though I doubt it’s still there. I seem to have lost the tag already, so I can’t even tell you the color number.
This morning Naomi and I completely ignored the list of cooking and cleaning tasks on my to-do list, and found the big playground at my favorite park. We had a picnic lunch of cheese and crackers. I am learning that sometimes, that is just the right thing to do. Autumn is a banquet of life and creation unlike any other. And I, for one, will not turn my nose up at Babette’s feast, at least for this single moment that I am aware of it.