The days begin and end with subtle longing. The mornings grow cooler. The cherry tree by the spring is bare and the sourwood leaves, bright red. The meadow is thick with goldenrod, glowing in the evening light. A small bird perches picturesquely on one flower stem and then flits away. As I walk back toward the house my feet crunch on the first maple leaves. I breath deeply and feel a tingling in the air. It is fall.
Fall, the season for plaids, knits, and boots. When hot tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider become first desirable, and then indispensable. When we eat a large orange squash, called pumpkin, in as many forms as possible. When we buy wool socks. A season especially adapted to the purpose of cuddling cats.
I came close to writing that I have always loved fall, but that is not quite true, I dreaded it last year.
The winter before last had been really hard for me, it was my first winter in a new home heated primarily with a wood-burning stove, and most of our wood was green. On top of that it was an unusually cold winter. So when the leaves began to turn, I started complaining. The sound of crunching leaves seemed foreboding. I felt nothing alluring in the brisk mornings. Not even hot apple cider could reconcile me to the idea that the cold was coming.
Looking back on that time, I find my attitude strange. Why did I allow worry to blind me to so much loveliness? There are things well worth dreading, things worse than cold, but should we ever allow our fears to eclipse the good things we still enjoy? There is ingratitude in such a choice. Life is often harsh and painful, but there is also a subtle beauty here, as fleeting as a thread of gossamer, or fall itself. I think the appreciation of these small, gifts; a smile, a breath of wind . . . mark the line between wise concern and worry. Worry is an obsession, it consumes us and everything around us, wise concern acknowledges both the good and bad and responds to both.