Hello, Fall

The calendar calls today Fall. The thermometer argues, but I know who’s got it right. The farm around me is swathed in the chrysalis of the changing season. I can feel it, smell it. I know it’s coming as surely as it always does. Soon the world will be on fire with crimson leaves and their beautiful passing, and then grey winter will settle in. 

A woman laughing sitting in the garden.

I started the morning early. My alarm beat out the sunrise, and when I sat up, the chill of my home bit gently at bare skin. I reached in the dark for the sweater I leave draped across the foot of the bed, gently and quietly as not to wake the boy sleeping soundly beside me. He’s too old for his parents’ bed, of course, but I’ve raised enough boys to know. Soon, he will stop tugging on my covers in the wee hours, asking to be invited into my warmth, and until he does stop, I will let him come.

The sweater is dark green, the color of the algae that blooms along the edge of the pond in late summer, the color of Christmas trees and of dried mint leaves. It is soft and slightly fuzzy in the way of broken-in sweaters. I bought it used somewhere, I can’t remember, but I knew when I saw it that we would have a long and lasting friendship. I call it my morning sweater, and every morning when I reach for it, I know that the calendar is telling the truth. Fall has come.

Flowers of pinks and purple.

When I was a younger gardener, my early Autumn days were filled with lament. The garden, in her wildness, was writing her farewell note, preparing to pack her loveliness into the battered suitcase called Frost and leave me like so many had before her. I’d stay out until sunset every night, until the inevitable chill of the evening sunk into my skin. I was tenacious about squeezing every drop from the summer season, savoring it like one who is starving. 

This year is different though.

This year, I am tired. This year, my body revolted. As I wandered through blooms and fruit-laden vines, a war was waged inside my skin. Doctors scribbled illegible orders on slips of papers, demanding medicines I hated to take to overcome infections that refused to leave. I dug in the soil, as I always do, started the seeds, as I always do, picked up the camera, as I always do. But inside, the battles rose and fell, and my body was laid waste as battlefields always are.

A woman with hands in pockets in the garden.

Then, the battlefield bloomed with an angry rash called eczema as the summer closed. When the garden went wild, I stood barefoot inside of her, my skin feeling like one hundred thousand ants were crawling and biting across it. The okra towered over like sentries and the crispy, crunchy remains of squash vines and tomato plants hung low. The pests swarmed and I saw that rabbits had nibbled and gnawed the fruit, but I did not care. Then the calendar announced fall and I realized I was hungrier for the embrace of morning sweater on the tortured skin of my arms than I was for the soil of the garden on my feet. 

It's still sticky and hot. The air today will grab in your throat like thick syrup when you swallow. The boys will play outside, savoring the slowly dripping remnants of summertime, and I will take joy in watching them. I have no doubt I will love the garden again. I’ll long for her as the dead of winter becomes old news. I will plan and anticipate and next season I will dive headlong into her love, as I have all the years before. But for now, for once, I walk into fall without the slightest tinge of sadness. 

A butterfly on an orange flower.

I eagerly await my cobalt blue, cast iron pot full of simmering stews. I anticipate layers of linen and wool on my healing skin. I yearn for my home to become a womb again, warm and inviting set against the cold and sleeping farm. I long for the way Autumn beautifies the pain of passing away, the bittersweet and awesome reality that things simply must change.

Here I am, in a place that is unfamiliar, but somehow exactly where I know I should be: resting, healing, and gladly letting go. 

More Lovely Words

I want to share this beautiful life with others and teach them the lessons we've learned along the way. Welcome to Roots and Refuge, friend. I am so glad you're here.

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