9:15 p.m., an early October night. I go outside, lured by the tree frogs and crickets, the same as I do in the height of summer – just to listen. The air is cool, more summer than autumn/less autumn than winter. There’s a ring of light around the moon, a lunar halo. The sound, bells strung together on a vine of dying light, is thinner than it is on those mid-August nights bursting with syncopation – katydids in tandem with peepers, a cricket singing solo.

Every autumn in the Northeast is different, some more vibrant than others, this one off to a dull start, too much rain saturating the ground, making trees drop their leaves before the magic really begins – bouquet after bouquet of red and yellow, gold, orange, brown crisp against the sky. In spring I’m all ears, the birds signaling to take note. In autumn I’m all eyes, each day on the lookout for that pop of red in the distance, the glow of yellow against the sky. Today’s walk around the lake has me feeling a little autumn-deprived.  It’s the season of nostalgia, with its undercurrent of melancholy, my yoga teacher reminds me.  And every bone in my body tells me she’s right.  No sooner does September roll around, with its reminder of beginnings  (the Jewish New Year, the new school year) than thoughts of a year coming to an end creep in (Thanksgiving just around the corner, Christmas and Chanukah not far behind).  I need those autumn colors, with their announcement that something is so very alive before it dies.

Today, on my walk, something on the other side of the lake catches my eye, a heron perched on a rock, a swan next to it, neither paying any attention to the other. The swan is preening, the heron ever zen-like in its search for food.  Closer to me, but far enough not to feel threatened, are turtles lined up on a log. The swan and heron are a rare sighting, the turtles sunning themselves something I can so often count on. I usually stop, just for a quiet look, three or four small ones in a row, a snapper standing sentry. The splash as they dip back into the lake, one by one, is worth the break in my stride. Anytime I think of a turtle lumbering along with a shell on its back, I remind myself that they also swim.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,”  begins John Keats’s “Ode to Autumn,” a line that’s a tongue twister if ever there was one. Autumn, for all its beauty, is not a season of playful ease. It’s something of a rush hour for squirrels and chipmunks.  A season when,

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

7 thoughts on “Autumn-deprived

  1. You’re making me miss the country so much…it’s a good thing I’m going to Paris tomorrow, or I would be profoundly envious. As is, I’m just nauseated and anxious at the thought of the plane trip, and soothed by your descriptions…

  2. Beautiful Deborah. In San Diego, our fall today consists of 100 degree heat and fears of recurring October fires. It’s days like today that make the NE so appealing, but glad to know we can live vicariously thru your blog posting.

  3. Beautiful. As I’m sweltering in nearly 90 degree weather on a season-less southern California day, I am transported deep into autumn…even if it’s autumn “lite” for you. Thanks for posting.

  4. I enjoyed this post. I love listening and watching nature. Not sure how many warblers you have in NY at this time but this something else to listen to during autumn.

    Hugs!!! from an ex-NYer

  5. I love the thought… “I need those autumn colors, with their announcement that something is so very alive before it dies.” Autumn is my favorite season… cool and colorful. I don’t much care for the sun, unless it’s behind a cloud (true Oregonian here!) With fall leaves, the color I’m looking at is always my favorite… just can’t decide. For me, autumn is peace… a beginning.

  6. I love to stop and enjoy the rhythm and beauty of your writing. And I too love to frolic in nature, reminded of the way, if I pay attention, there are practical lessons to help me with my burdens (like your turtle, it’s shell, and its ability to swim, despite the heft of the load).

    It is definitely hot here in CA now, but fall, nevertheless, as I am noticing the beautiful leaves that will drop; leaving huge trees bare yet beautiful. Then there is the morning crispness (despite the promise of a hot day), the birds–thankful that they are still warm here, and the incredible trails that make me feel as if I have traveled to another, cooler place.

  7. There’s definitely something about this piece that makes me feel relieved, peaceful, focused, even as I grieve the inevitable waning of the light…

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