A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine in the UK wrote about the onset of fall on the same day I pulled out of my office building’s parking garage and made a mental note that the light is changing.
Light and shadow fascinate me, and none more so than that which befall us as September arrives. It is as if, overnight, the northern hemisphere decides it is time to slip into something a little more comfortable and cozy. The light acquires a buttery texture and the shadows, contrary to their oft-times harsh, threatening nature, soften and invite embrace. Like the bear that has spent all summer forging and gorging on berries and salmon, the northern equatorial earth is fat and full and making ready to slumber.
Fall evokes many memories for me. It is only recently that I have finally accepted that the year doesn’t begin in the fall. And yet, I still hold on to that nostalgia. When I was a kid, school started in late August. When I lived in Austria, I arrived in October. College and graduate school convened in September. I have had jobs that have both commenced and ended in the fall months. Halloween and Thanksgiving are favorite fall celebrations with their own mix of memories.
I’m told that smell is our most powerful sense, capable of evoking and arousing memories and images that the other senses lack. Such is true of fall. There is a smell in the fall that immediately transports me to the Wienerwald, Berkeley, Provo, and Meadeville. Perhaps it is the smell of fall that inspires in us the longing and desire to find a way to slow or even stop time.
As I get older, though, the one element of fall with which I struggle is the waning daylight. The sun rises later and sets earlier. Couple that with the change back to Standard Time, resulting in more light in the morning, but less in the evening, and I find myself dreading the late fall and early winter months.
Last year, as some of you may recall, I refused to turn my clocks back and kept them on Daylight Saving Time. This resulted in darker mornings, but more light late in the day. It also resulted in a bit of confusion over what time guests were arriving for dinner or when I needed to leave for certain events. But overall, it worked and I would jokingly tell my friends that I was Indiana, Arizona, and Hawaii year round! (Although, I think I’ve got all backwards, haven’t I?)
This year, I’ll “fall back” (thought I’d rather not) because I’m working again. I suppose it seems impractical to insist on not turning the clocks back, when the rest of the working world and the government absolutely insist upon it. If I had my druthers, we’d set our clocks one hour ahead and stay right there. None of this back and forth schizophrenia.
The sky has that tint that the Crayola box has long called “midnight blue”—not quite black, but deeply, darkly blue. The screeching cacophony of the summer cicada has been replaced by the quiet cadence of the cricket. A bat circles above the light in the alley out back, feasting on the last of the summer insects.
I listen to the quiet rustle of the leaves that have started falling in dribs and drabs. They scoot and shimmy across sidewalks, tumble and skip over lawns, and lie dormant on my car until I drive off—the leaves trailing behind in a wind-tunnel flurry like a veil being tossed off as summer gaily slips into fall.
There has been a nip in the evenings and early in the mornings the last few days that is invigorating and bracing. After a summer of draining heat and humidity, the coolness of September is like an oasis. The air somehow seems healthier and sprightly—full of the possibility of renewal and new beginnings.
Photo copyrights: DC Confidential (09/07.)