Proper Autumn

So much for my plans to keep up with my writing on my days off. Between falling ill, and desperately needing days of zombie trances, I seem to have let my passion fall to the wayside. But I’m in the middle of four days off from work, and I figure that now is as good a time as any to get back to it.

The other day I saw my Facebook post announcing my retirement from the Food Service Industry, and today marks the one year anniversary (kind of) of my final day at Blondie’s Pizza. I’ll be doing a proper column about the year in review in the first week of December, but even now I am thinking back over the past twelve months and seeing how patterns from my apathy colored my failures (and successes I did make tens of dollars from my writing!). And now here I am, about to embark upon my latest endeavor, dreading tax time and the need to file three places of employment for this past year. Of course, I still seem to be getting ahead of myself. There’s always something about Autumn that puts me in an introspective (and retrospective) mood, not that we’ve really seen all that many proper Autumns here in California for the past few years. Any time you’ve got 100 degree days in the early weeks of December, you’re pretty much disqualified from knowing what the Fall is all about. I imagine children, now in Kindergarten, who are frightened and terrified by the recent streak of 40 degree mornings, having never in their lives been subject to them. Hailing from the Northwest, of course, I merely chuckle to myself and silently judge them for their provincial attitudes.

I myself am thoroughly enjoying the crisp air, with its promises of snow (which will, of course, never be kept), and nearly collapsing in pile of hyperventilation as I misjudge the plumes of smoke I’m blowing out as I smoke in the early morning. This time of year has always been my favorite, at least, that is, since I hit puberty. I mean, sure: when you’re in school, nothing beats the summer and its proffered freedom from the drudgery of learning. But with that comes rising temperatures and tons of pretty girls who seemed only to exist to remind me that I was so terribly alone. Once the weather begins to change, however, and temperatures start sliding down toward more tolerable conditions, something magical happens. The very quality of light begins to change, and the whole world itself seems nothing more than a warm and soft reality contained within a moderately priced frame hanging on the mantel. Perhaps I tend to enjoy this time of year because it is like so many sunsets: soft, vibrant, and life-affirming.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am not a morning person. Sure, I’ve been working mornings for several years now, but that has had more to do with transportation than any other factor. And while many have written volumes on the beauty of a sunrise, I myself have never had much use for them. They are jarring, and, though beautiful at times, often leave the world painted in migraine colors on either side of their appearance. They’ve taken something primal and necessary, and made it into something less, a shambling, weakened beast which marches up and down the world until it is finally put down a little earlier each day. But sunsets are amazing. They are the lullabies by which the beast is soothed, the dreamscape for the weary, a rainbow for the beaten down. And as they erupt into their brilliance, they are made even more precious by the darkness which soon overtakes them and draws them back down again. Sunsets quietly fade into the night, whereas sunrises are consumed entirely by the coming day, burned away by the insistence of the sun.

I should probably revise my previous statement about Autumn days. I was, of course, referring to those afternoons when the heavens have opened and the rain begins to fall, yet the sunlight somehow sneaks in sideways to make everything not gun-metal grey begin to glow. The browns of ruined vegetation, moistened by the falling rain begin to shine in prodded rejuvenation, and the blues and scattered greens take on a darker, richer shade, and though one might find himself shivering and damp, he feels safe and warmed, all the same. But on the clear days, as the sun arcs across the sky at a slightly off-putting angle, everything looks washed out and somewhat frozen, like a faded photograph, somehow spared from sepia tonality, but with an ancient appearance all the same. It’s a quality of light which lends itself to quiet, an invitation, if not outright commandment to be still and quiet, for fear of shattering the fragile peace which holds the day. I miss the Great Northwest, and feel guilty that I have sentenced my son to experience but two and a half seasons (at best) which we are granted here in Northern California.

A vision of Proper Autumn
… and Fed told me I couldn’t capture a picture of the rain, even during a proper Autumn…

Can you see the vibrancy of the fallen leaves as they are bombarded by the falling rain? Even in the throes of entropy, they proudly announce to the world, that they are not finished, that they will return some day, that there is still a little fight left in them. And now I see that I have made these leaves the metaphor for me and for my writing, placing upon them my growing burden of failing courage, pinning my hopes that this is not a foolish dream upon their cycle of renewal. Time will tell, of course, if I am meant to fade away, washed away and left to rot in some hidden gutter, or if I am spared instead to fertilize the soil in which my dreams once grew. I’m hoping for the latter, obviously, although I hear that the gutters are quite nice this time of year.

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