Small black, bird-sized shadows flew diagonally across the curtains at my window as I lay in bed. I glanced at them, turned back toward my television, then paused the movie I was viewing. I sat up, parted my curtains and watched through the window as yellow leaves twisted past the panes, blown by gusts of wind from the branches of trees. They fell, curled and dry, as Fall made its entrance. I’m repeating myself here, but I don’t like Fall.
As I wrote last year, it is actually Fall’s brother, Winter, that I truly dislike. I just know that where one goes, the other follows, and judging from the torrent of stinkbugs flowing through the cracks in my windows, Winter is going to sit down on us, hard. Stinkbugs don’t want to be outside when it is cold, and neither do I. (Unfortunately, for the stinkers, I am the one paying rent, and they are not welcome guests.) But then, there’s this: a crisp, early morning, and a forgotten moon is a white thumbprint on the flat blue sky, a joy, a companion on my walk. Fall does bring with it a cessation of the scorching temperatures that dried our grasses and wilted our flowers – wait: I own neither grasses nor flowers, so I only imagine those challenges. But cooler temperatures remove any dis-incentive for me to exercise my old bones while I walk to and from the store. And the bookstore. And the coffeehouse.
Fall is not completely scary to me. In early fall, the sound of the day changes, as summer-swollen squirrels scurry, making the new carpet of leaves hiss as they rummage for nuts. On a recent early fall day, “The Birdman of Indianapolis,” Wes Homoya, met me at the Eagle Creek Ornithology Center, and positioned me at his Vortex spotting scope, which was aimed across Eagle Creek; I watched cormorants as they stalked thorough the shallow water and bisected the scope with their flight along the shore. These things happen every day, the commonplace flights of birds, but the sight on this day was an unintended gift to me from the outer edges of winter. Another gift of fall is to allow me to open my windows and let the wind blow through my apartment and carry away the millions of my stale exhalations, though I’m certain that Nature is more concerned about the flatulence of cows, than what may be escaping with my belches.
While walking back to my apartment from the coffeehouse, I looked up through the trees, the edges of which were bright with the sun’s touch and brown and golden with the advent of fall. I know that summer is taking a deep breath before it blows hot across us, again, but a line from a Roberta Flack song hummed in my head: “Autumn turns the leaves to gold…” Autumn does that, but as Robert Frost wrote, “nothing gold can stay.” Roberta continues her song: “Sad young men are growing old,” and though I am neither sad, nor young, I am indeed, growing old. As is the year, which is why the summer must “fall.” But then there is more, from fall, for the changing temperatures force the leaves to color and curl and drop, and the wonder of the changing of the leaves can be seen in places like Brown County, Indiana, or perhaps, Eagle Creek, where the birds wheel and cry and prepare to depart.
And then there is an autumn offering from a cidery, and the rebirth of the Heartland Film Festival, and the soft light of a later morning, another gift from the season of change.