Lady Summer bade a disgruntled farewell last night as Prince Autumn rode in on his royal chestnut steed to announce his presence. They will Tango a complicated kind of graceful swing for now. She is whispering in his ear, "Stay, stay, my love, I'm still here," and he says, "It's time to change your outfit dear."
It is the inevitable time of year when things shift from playful laughter and a "that can wait till tomorrow" attitude, to a subtle leaning towards slumber that will eventually come. The transition is gradual, for awhile, until all of a sudden it is fall, and things must be done. The berries are forming, the vivid green leaves of summer is now tinged with yellow and brown, the sky is clear, so clear you feel like you can fly away if you look long enough. Oh, plenty of things are still trying to outlast everyone. They are hanging on to those scorching afternoons, but the insects are already changing partners, ready for a new dance to begin. The cicada's chorus is a little less urgent, the butterflies are a little sleepier. The crickets are ramping up their violins for cooler nights and a forlorn kind of feeling is settling in. Despite the warmth, the long late afternoon shadows are fueling my sense of nesting, along with the squirrels.
I don't cling to summer like some people do. As soon as fall knocks, the change in season instills a desire to withdraw, to collect, to organize and prepare. Even though modern life says I do not need to do this, I still feel a physical push, a drive to make room for extra food in the pantry, finish or start projects that will keep me busy in the deepest winter.
I look forward to solitude in a different way than in high summer. As with the birds, flocking through my forest by the hundreds, restocking their bellies on fallen fruits and seeds to enjoy a brief respite of a long flight to come; I am also done with playing carefree in the late spring sunshine. Life felt new then, as it always does, but now it's time to move on. This cycle continues, so subconsciously that I feel at the total whim of Nature. I am not a mere "me" any longer, but part of a grander scheme, a larger purpose and it feels hopelessly good to comply.
It's time to clean up, put away, repair and store. The fading yellowing plants are telling me it's time. The seed pods are ready to sleep, to nourish and to be decorated with icy curtains that are soon coming to cover them with glittery brilliance. The animals are telling me it's time. Let the summer shedding begin! The cat is sitting a little closer to the lap as the cooler nights descend upon me. I see fewer summer birds and the winter birds are yelling at me for food. The squirrels are getting very fat and the crows are calling each other all day long.
My body tells me too. I want to bake pie and roast things in the oven. I want to wear boots. The grill cover is on more than off and picking through the garden for the last of the summer tomatoes makes me a bit sad. I have many beets, potatoes, chard and shallots however; all ready for the roasting pan.
Yes, Prince Autumn has ridden by and is waiting for his Summer Queen to find a quiet tower to wait for him until it is time to come out and dance the Tango once again next year.