"The grass withers,
The flower fades,
But the word of our God
I recently travelled several hours from "the north woods" down to my home in east central Wisconsin. Driving along, I sipped my diet soda and smiled to myself, recalling how odd it seems that I, Southern California "born and bred" should end up in this rural, pastoral setting (ha--no pun intended).
Sitting on the rail fence at night during my teen years, listening to traffic and pondering where life might take me, I can say with conviction that Wisconsin never entered my thoughts. Yet here I was. So many changes, so many joys, sorrows, questions and unexpected turns in life have come through the years.
Sunlight filtered through wind-tossed woods, casting dancing shadows across the highway. I almost expected the dappled light to scatter before my wheels like leaves. The trees, some flashing a spot of early red or gold, turned to farmland, red barns, and the occasional horses or cattle. The shadows of late afternoon stretched in elongated stripes, curving over the gentle contours of the fields. Except for the engine, it was quiet. I saw few vehicles and fewer people.
Stopping to stretch my legs, I stepped onto crunchy gravel at the side of the road. It was warm, even hot, but there was that awareness that fall is nearing--something in the breeze and the shadows and the sky. I gradually became aware of an almost undetectable sweetness in the air. Sniffing, I wondered what caused it--too mild to be called an aroma, exactly. Then I saw that on each of the four corners of the intersection was a different kind of crop.
To my rear on the left stood corn, tasseled and turning brown, loaded with ears that would become food for the cattle during winter. Behind me to the right the "spring green" of alfalfa grew in astonishing brilliance. In front to the left a field of soybeans, one of the loveliest crops imaginable, stretched to the horizon. In summer its leaves are a deep glossy green, but now they were turning to the characteristic mottled red, gold and yellow of fall. On the other corner stood a farmhouse. To the side of the wide lawn was a garden. Around the edges grew late-summer flowers--Gladiolas, Black-Eyed Susan's, Snapdragons, and many more I could not name. I was too far away to identify all of what remained in the garden, but I could see what I guessed were tomato plants along with the broad leaves of squash plants. I surmised that all these lovely growing things were what filled the air with that subtle freshness.
I love this time of year in the north. I am sad as summer goes, but if we have a good fall it is my favorite season. A bad fall means endless dreary days and rain. And cold. And early frost. And a blasting storm just as the leaves are turning so that instead of color we go from leaves of green to slightly tinged to totally gone. A good fall means gently cooling days, crisp air, fabulous autumn colors, and sunshine. Good or bad, fall is all to0 short here. By mid-November it is cold. Hunters hope for snow by Thanksgiving so they can track deer. I root for the deer and hope for snow to hold off until December.
The main reason for me to be sad at summer's passing is that fall is coming which means that in a very short time winter is here. Winters here can be dreary and cloudy or brilliant and blue. Either way, they are cold. And they last for what seems like forever. Any long time readers of this blog know how I anticipate spring each year!
Does fall make you nostalgic as it always does for me? Do you ponder life and passing years and changes? I don't know what it is about fall, but that always happens to me. Is summer fading, or is it in full swing where you are?