“This was the time of year when the first rainstorm was hoped for with as much longing as that with which perpetual clear weather would be prayed for six months later.” — Gabriel García Márquez, Of Love and Other Demons, trans. Edith Grossman
Something happened a couple days ago. A cool wind spread over the land, and another apple fell from the tree in the backyard. Squirrels began digging up the flowerbeds to plant their caches of gatherings as I began banging on windows to frighten them away from destroying the beds I had worked all summer to build. The nights began to get cool. Summer is winding down to fall.
Autumn may be my favorite season. November will be hard, with its days in which we hardly see the sun, and sleepiness that sets in once the sun has set in the middle of the afternoon. But it is crowned with Thanksgiving, the only holiday that has so far not been hijacked by commercialism, which has all the gatherings and nostalgia of Christmas but without the anxiety and hassle of gifts.
Every year, as the days grow short, and the leaves turn, I find myself becoming introspective. I sit up by lamplight to re-read old journals and books enjoyed years before, listening to the rain on the roof and windows. I find myself more eager to take long walks and breathe the cool air, even in the rain, than I did in the dry warmth of summer.
In my heart, fall both ends the old year and inaugurates the new far more than the change of the calendar on the first of January. In many traditions throughout the world, time and the material world wear down, and must be regenerated ceremonially each year. In this ceremonial period of regeneration, time itself can be nearly abolished (Mircea Eliade’s “eternal return”), and all points in time coalesce. I undertake such a regeneration in myself each year in fall, feeling more myself than in any other season, reminiscing on the past, and reorienting myself to the future.
Let the rainstorms come. I’ll be filling my pens and sharpening my pencils.