Today, the night is as long as the day. As autumn officially begins, we are now equally divided between the light and the dark. There’s an old folk legend that says if you catch a red or golden leaf as it drops mid-flight during the equinox, you won’t catch a cold in the winter. Maybe, it works for Covid-19 as well–I’ll be looking up. I bought a little pumpkin yesterday for the kitchen window box, to cover up all the spaces between the flowers where the deer have been feasting. I’m going to collect a bunch of red fallen leaves and nestle them next to the pumpkin, in celebration of the equinox. I can’t let this important day carelessly pass by. In the Chinese tradition, white is the color of autumn, and I have plenty of white candles for tonight’s darkness. Weeping is the sound of the season, and now is the time to weep for things you have lost.
Thankfully, out my window this morning, it does not look at all like this photo I took last week. The weather fronts that rolled through last week end have largely dissipated the dense smoke which encased us for well over a week. We obsessively checked the air quality, hourly, to see if we were still in the red zone, and except for brief walks down to the water to check out the “view,” we stayed inside. Our sailboat looked like a ghost ship, stranded between earth and sky without a horizon line to orient itself in place. I thought of how pilots in those small planes without proper instruments, are prone to crash when they can’t see the ground in dense fog. When we went to bed at night, we turned on the ceiling fan to move some air in our hermetically sealed house. With no visible lights across the lake, no moon light, no star light, I had dreams I was in a coffin. Such are the times we live in right now.
And yet, this is the start of my favorite season. The weather gods are predicted to bless us with off and on rain all of this week, which is a grand transition from summer to fall. We’ll have a month of gold and crimson against blue skies, wool sweaters, hot Irish whiskey. We move on, we move on.
A Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver
Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for
the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.