A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece entitled, “Falling into Fall.” The general theme was a distinct dislike for the season. I spent a couple of pages whining about the death of everything and dreading the onset of winter.
What a difference geography makes, at least in my psyche. I guess I’d never spent fall in the Northwest. Although I love the scent of roasting green chills, I have to say that is about the only part of the season I can embrace in New Mexico.
This year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend several weeks of autumn in Montana.
The first thing I’ve noticed is the silence. During the heat and bustle of summer, you become a little deaf to all the noise and activity; lawnmowers, boats, the chatter of people on the road walking their dogs. Nature adds her notes to the cacophony, with birdsong and the ever-present hum of insects.
The first time I noticed the difference it was mid-September and Tucky and I were doing our daily lap around the island. Suddenly I realized I could hear myself think. The tick, tick of his claws on the pavement combined with the echoes of my own footsteps—other than that, there was nothing but silence.
The morning air had a clarity to it I can’t explain, other than to say that distant objects appeared magnified in size and brilliance. The sweetness of filling my lungs with the chilly air was enhanced by an indescribable fresh scent.
Mother Nature had begun to pull a quilt of color over the shoulders of the mountains, and the pageantry of the trees was reflected in the mirrored surface of the lake.
As we walked along the road, reveling in the beauty of the moment, I felt an immense sense of peace and harmony that has escaped me for years. For the first time in recent memory, I found myself actually looking forward to winter. My connection with nature in that moment brought with it an understanding of the gifts of the season; of rest, dormancy and the gathering of resources for the promise of spring, when new life will surge forth and restart the eternal cycle of life.
Although I’ve often complained about the discomforts of winter, I have to admit I can’t imagine living in a place that doesn’t experience the four seasons. There is something about living through those short days of low light and cold that make the advent of spring that much more exciting. And with the chores of summer winding down, fall is a wonderful time to reflect on the lessons learned, to plan for next year’s garden, to enjoy the fruits of this year’s labors.
Yesterday morning a dusting of snow crept halfway down the mountain. Winter is waiting in the wings. I’m ready.