Everyone loves fall. Everyone. Every blogger I read (and believe me, there are quite of few) have all written their posts by now extolling the virtues of autumn. They’ve covered the incredible beauty of changing foliage, the piles of decadent fallen leaves jump in. They’ve touted the wonder of seeing your breath in the morning, squealed in anticipation of pumpkin-flavored everything, and piled on the layers of snuggly blankets and scarves. Boots abound.
However, I don’t live in any of the sensible states, states who understand what the term “season” means. Texas forgot for a while, but thankfully, we are finally, FINALLY seeing a relief from the scorching temperatures. There’s a lingering chill in the mornings when I let the chickens out, and I’ll get to start wearing my favorite beanie to practice soon. This morning my wellies were a bit stiff and chilly as I pulled them on my bare feet and I had no choice but to be grateful.
While I love all these things, and agree quite heartily with the most eloquent of poems for fall, I am learning that that is not what I love so much about October. Of course I love that the purest, bluest skies appear this month, that the stars are crystalline in the velvet, but it’s not what I love most. I adore snuggling under my blankets, I love any excuse for homemade hot chocolate, and I am eternally grateful for the haven of a hot cleansing shower, but that is not what holds my heart so fast to the fall.
I am so bound because autumn has become a time of release for me, a deep sigh that lets me drop my burdens, a slowing down and walking through my life. It used to be a time of action, of decision and movement, because that’s when the semester started. But as I’ve grown older and the rhythm of my life has shifted, so too has my perception of each month’s personality. The summers used to be about living in the sunshine and soaking up as much freedom and life as I could–the stunning joy of swimming in a cool river on a hot day, the unmatched friendships born of thunderstorms, the pure visceral reaction of standing underneath a canopy of stars knowing you are but a tiny piece of a very large puzzle. Summer was unequivocally my favorite season. And I still love it, though not in the same way, for I have learned, and am still learning, to value more in life than pure joy.
If summer has been the time of joyful expression, then fall has become the time for challenging renovation. Every living thing uncovers itself, begins to strip itself bare and takes stock of who it has become and what it has gathered to prepare for the challenging months ahead. I have taken a page out of their books–I slow down, look about me, and reflect what it is about myself I want to change or improve. Typically they are more physical changes–Invisalign one year, chiropractic care last year, interest in the Primal Blueprint. I take better care of myself during the fall–I remember to nurture my tired, heat-exhausted body and remind myself that it’s ok to take care of me sometimes. I strip myself down to the basics–what am I about? What am I making the most important thing in my life, and should it remain so? Am I ready for whatever is coming my way? If I were to meet myself in a coffee shop, would I like that girl, want to be her friend?
I always feel like I know myself a bit more in the fall, I get a sense of where I want to go in life, a sense of what I want it to look like. I dream a bit more, have more motivation to rid myself of excess and focus on the things most important to me. I can see more clearly the direction I am headed and can course-correct, and that is always, always, a blessing.
Maybe one day winters will hold the throne in my heart, one day when I am older and wiser. Perhaps I will cherish the imposed quiet. Or perhaps I will learn to really like the spring, with her charming adolescent displays–awkward and inconsistent, with the promise of beauty to come. But as it stands now, I will take autumn and all her revelations, for while change is painful, it is with the realization of growth through these challenges (some may call that maturity!) that I have learned to value the beauty in them. I can see that by acknowledging my imperfections and the need to change, I have taken the next step on the path to become the woman I want to be.