I am sitting in William's Coffee Pub in Oakville (my home town, outside of Toronto) watching the leaves blow the last of the leaves from the trees. It is barely above the freezing point, and I am beginning to wonder (as I tend to do this time of year) what quirk of fate brought my grandfathers both to Canada… wondering if it wouldn't have made more sense for them to settle in Myrtle Beach.
The shift from summer (as it were this year) and winter in Canada is a harsh one, and I wonder if the beautiful though often blustery autumns that we enjoy are not G-d's compensation for that… the last three weeks have given us a symphony of colours hard to imagine any other time – during summer the greens are so lush that we can hardly fathom they could end, and in winter the cold and bleak are so harsh that you try to remember if it was ever any other way.
School children mourn the end of summer on the first day of class but that is not really when summer ends; I cannot imagine shedding a tear for the end of winter, and the transition from spring to summer is (in Canada) an imperceptible one where it just seems to be a little warmer and a little drier (again, not this year). But the end of autumn is a sad one indeed… and despite what science might tell us it is not on the equinox in December, but really it is the first frost on the ground, the first time the radio warns that it is going to dip below freezing not overnight but while we are out and about. It is when the last coloured leaf hits the ground, and the bare trees look like they could never possibly have hosted the fall foliage.
Last night Theresa came running into the room telling me it might snow; it did not, but the fact that the weather forecast said that it might brought a little sadness. We told Aaron (our son) that there will be no more Crocs without socks this year; Jacob (puppy) woke me in the middle of the night to go out, but when we god to the door he changed his mind… too windy, too chilly.
Autumn is a hard time of the year to plan for… you simply don’t know what it will offer. Theresa and I got married last week-end, and rather than the outdoor wedding we were thinking about we decided to get married indoors… trading possible beauty for guaranteed comfort. As it turned out the day was glorious and everyone wondered why we did not marry under the gold and red leaves of the apricot tree in our back yard; as nice as it would have been I can imagine the complaints if it had been five degrees colder, windy, and drizzly. You just never know what this season will offer on any given day, and betting on a weather forecast seven days in advance is never the safest bet. If you are wondering, it was still a glorious affair that was enjoyed by all.
Seasons are so important to us that they have been woven into our language as adjectives and similes – the winter of our discontent, spring fling, summer love. Autumn has two names used interchangeably… Fall. Sure, we fall in love… but we also fall down, fall from grace, fall on hard times. Years ago I participated in a student film project called ‘The Fall’ which was about falling leaves, falling down… and falling out of love. It was sad…
As one who has fallen out of love before I know that as hard as it was to imagine, love will come again… so it is that as I look at the bare trees outside the window I know it is impossible to believe now, and it will get cold and depressing first, but spring will come again, and I know that as it does we will wonder how we ever were depressed about the coming winter.