Cases in point:
1) I read in the paper yesterday that it is not too late to put in a fall garden. Not too late? It's still summer! And yet, if you want to have crops that will be ready for harvest before the first frost, when so many things die that are not already dead, you have to plant now. It is almost already too late. And so, today I headed to the nursery (how strange that we use the same word for where we raise our children and our plants) and came home with lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, kohlrabi. I spruced up the basil. I checked the green onions that I didn't pick in the spring that will likely make a go of it again now. I watered the herbs that have been thirsting for water for a week now that it has finally stopped raining. I pulled up the tomato plants that are spent; there are a few small fruit hanging on dead vines still waiting to ripen. And, most of all, at dusk, I went out at dusk, fighting excessive humidity and mosquitoes, to plant all that I had purchased, to renew the hope I had in spring that what I put in the ground will yield usable produce.
Indeed, nature has moved on.
2) Today, I made my yearly pilgrimage, the first of many before Christmas, up to Signal Mountain to purchase what has to be the finest apple cider in the world. At least in my experience, having spent cider seasons in New England, the Midwest, the Northeast, and, for the 30+ years, the Southeast, I have never tasted anything that compares. For four months, sometimes longer, the orchard on that mountain blends its many apple types into an ever-changing, masterful mix of flavors? Where else, except in human beauty, does perfection offer so many varieties?
Apple cider is too much for some, too concentrated, too much a presentation of pure apple. Me, I can drink it like water. If i could only have one drink for the remainder of my days, I would choose this apple cider.
3). Last night, with my daughter home and home with other friends from college, I set up a fire outside, a grill to prepare the ultimate outdoor meal--grilled paella. Sausage first, chicken second, then with those removed, onions, peppers, garlic and spice added, then rice then broth then all of it recombined to cook together, peas and shrimp added at the last. That the fire wouldn't catch, that I ended up cooking a huge outdoor pan in an improvised way on a gas stove did not matter. What mattered is that I invited a friend from across the street over, and when he arrived, he said, "Are you having a fire outside on one of the hottest days of the year?" Because, by then, the fire had caught. But he had been tricked. Hot September days meant hot September nights to him, but no, when the sun went down, the air had cooled enough for fire, the heat of the day would not hold without the sun.
4). And football. Finally, football on Friday night, football all day Saturday, football on Sunday. I was in our school assembly last Friday. And a female teacher walked past me on her way out. "I'm sorry," she said, "I can't take the football." I suppose I understood that on some intellectual level, but the fact remains that we teach boys and this is football season and Friday nights our students are going to be gathered in a stadium and if we are not there we miss it, and so I think, if you must, you swallow that and you go to the game.
We don't decide what autumn is; it is decided for us. The ground and the fruit and the air and the noises of the evening all tell us that regardless what we might want to hang onto or what we might not want to accept, the season has changed and all that comes with it has changed, and, willingly or not, we must change, too. For me, that's an easy choice.