Tomorrow there will be rain. You can feel it in the mellow air, the stirring of anticipation and the encroaching clouds. There is the sense that I stand on the threshold of something, as I sit here writing on the screened porch. It’s in the almost imperceptible breeze, a barely stirred, indrawn breath of air. Here, at the end of October, the leaves are beginning to turn in earnest. Everywhere I look I see russet and scarlet, brilliant yellow, and incandescent flame-hued leaves. I think again how odd that in dying back, the earth should put on such brilliant colors. But, too, it’s one of the things I love best–that defiant flaunting of the palette of vitality just on the point of stillness.
Echoes of Summer
I’ve spoken at quite a length about the sleepy, heat-drenched rhythms of the summer season here in Georgia. The overwhelming abundance of growing things, the irrefutable evidence of life and all its doings seems subsumed beneath a sort of drenched torpor, as if the heat generated by the act of moving would be just one degree too much to bear. The hot, green force of cicada songs on a glaring July afternoon, as birds and rodents take to the deep shade afforded by hedges and low-growing shrubs. The very sunlight spills down and coats the world–a flood of bright napalm–inescapable and searing.
Now, although the sunlight is still warm and days are still likely to see high temperatures in the 80s, the cooling trend is apparent. The air itself is drying out, even as I anticipate rain–the silver, drenching downpours interspersed with chilly drizzle–a favorite weather to walk out in and see the mist-wreathed trees still sporting their brilliant banners. The air has lost its feeling of a thick, wet wool sweater wrapped firmly about the face and head.
Balancing the Book of the Year
Autumn is a season of contradiction. But also, it’s a time when I take stock of things. It is very much a liminal space of sorts, when I stand still and look back upon what is known of the year. I also turn my face into the coming darkness of winter and try to put a form on what will come to me. This is my season for gathering intentions and taking stock of my resources, a planning time. And in a way, if I retreat from others and seek my own company, it isn’t because I fear them or what they bring to me. Rather, it is the hoarding of energy and the inward focus of an expectant mother animal. Only, what I hold within me is not another creature or copy, but the coming year itself. There’s an odd sense of power in that idea, even while it renders me intensely vulnerable.
I am gravid with my own future–a little off-balance, apt to be distracted and subject to odd cravings. I laugh as I picture what I might look like if I were actually pregnant, and then I think that there is nowhere else on earth I would rather be in such a state. That’s not because the people here are particularly nice or that the state of feminine healthcare is so great–neither statement is true. It’s the land. It’s because this place speaks to my soul in a way that no other location ever has, though parts of my consciousness look west or south, east or northwest. It is looking backward. It is looking forward. This–this is the now. And I feel myself echoed in the present–all my possible futures and the concrete past, everywhere and everything I have been or will be are held within this golden instant.
I sit and soak up the afternoon. The ruddy arrow-flights of subtly angled sunlight, the flurries of birds as they hop about the still-green grass or fill the gardenia bush pressed up against the screen. The river birch sheds the electrum of itself on the grass and the ancient crepe myrtle tree stands like a russet flame across the garden. In the shadows of the forest margin, the sasanqua camellias are more pink and white blossom than they are glossy leaves. I smell dry leaves and roses on the bright air, hear birds chirping, the distant shouts of children in some game of chase. I feel a deep awareness of my life, and I ponder the questions of where I will go and what I will do in the coming months–spread them like cards upon the table in front of me.
October is the counting house of the year. It is also that of my Self.