Photo by K. Tennant
Just as we were buying the last peaches of summer, Jason was also making the first chicken noodle soup of fall. It’s such an odd time of year, when the fresh joys of one season are brought up flush against the cozy yearnings of the other.
I always feel melancholy this time of year, and yet it’s probably my favorite season. As I was taking a walk the other day, the conflicting emotions intensified: sadness and contentment; nesting urges tinged with restlessness; feelings of loss as well as gain. How can I so intensely love a season that makes me so sad? It sounds a bit like an abusive relationship, doesn’t it?
As I thought about it more, though, I wondered if our mixed feelings about fall say something about about human nature—that we understand the need to embrace endings as well as beginnings. We inherently realize that certain things have to die to make way for new things to be born. Embracing fall is a way of embracing that process, or at least giving it permission to get on with its melancholy business.
A friend was recently talking about how his yard got away from him this summer. There were certain corners and certain weeds that didn’t seem worth fighting at this point in the year. He took comfort in knowing that the winter would kill off all those unwanted invaders who had crept into his life when he wasn’t looking, but the cold couldn’t kill the big oak tree or lilac bushes he cared most about. Sure, the weeds would probably return eventually, but they would have to start over. He would be given a chance to start over, too.
Is that how we feel about fall? It’s a chance to stop the struggle and the effort, and to just give in to a cycle we can’t control—not relenting in defeat, but in relief, and hope? Maybe it’s a time to realize that some of what we’re clinging to doesn’t matter the most, and the things that do matter the most will survive the winter.
Each season gives way into something new
A month ago we helped some of our closest family friends pack up a truck so they could move their life a couple states away. It felt like an end of a season of friendship, for sure, but also the beginning of one, that involves our daughters writing letters (real ones, mailed in envelopes!) and Skyping as a way to stay connected.
This past weekend, our two families met halfway between our cities for some fall camping. At night, we gathered around the campfire in warm jackets, hats and scarves, absorbing warmth as we caught up on our lives. During the day, hiking on the dunes, the sun was warm enough that we rolled up our jeans and tied our sweatshirts around our waists. It is without question that in-between time of year—a time of transition, bittersweet memories, and hope for the new growth that’s to come.