Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Oh gloomy season! Of the eyes enchantment!
Your beauty pleases me as farewell it bids.
(A.S. Pushkin)

It occurred to me a while ago as I was commenting on someone's blog that this could be the reason I like fall-- you can see the passage of time in the changes of the leaves, their fall, and eventual (if we are lucky) arrival of frost.

Spring, too, visibly marks the passage of time, but it is not exactly my cup of tea. Too cheerful perhaps? Don't get me wrong-- early spring, when the change is in the air, new hope, new leaves, I plug in and pay attention. I look forward to... To what, exactly? To sandals, ice cream outside, end of another academic year-- promises of things still months away. But as the greenery comes in, lush and loud, spring becomes almost too obnoxious for me, too sure of itself. In the Old Country there also were blooming chestnut trees to look forward to, and lilacs, both marking, perfectly on cue, the end of school year.

Nowadays, summer brings the sense of relief that, with exams written and graded, the calendar of academia has again released me to the wilds of unscheduled weeks, and I am freeeeeeeeee. It never lasts, the giddy sensation. In its place-- disorienting sameness of the bright summer days. Only the evenings, by the very act of their differentiated arrival times, give clues. But by then it's too late. In the Old Country we had seasonal fruit. Berries, too. June meant going to the woods to pick wild strawberries. I suppose I just betrayed my essential city-ness, my complete lack of green thumb, or even green eye, so to speak. I am sure to a gardener summer marks the passage of time no less clearly than if a solar-powered atomic clock was installed in a place of honor among the greenery, surrounded perhaps by one of those multi-toned grass designs. To me, however, summer is a static season.

I like winter, despite it being the ultimate static season, because it usually brings snow and skiing. And a multitude of excuses for getting together with friends. And snow. Did I mention I like snow? I am sure the fact that I very rarely get cold, but do easily get hot has something to do with this. And yes, that's another knock for the summer.

The fall then. The season when even the most inept nature watcher can follow the passage of time. The leaves-- the color, the fraction still attached. Air temperature, although the wild fluctuations have made this indicator a bit unreliable as of late. But they brought, earlier in the season, these crisp sunny days, my ideal fall days. This fall in particular has been especially bright around these parts. On my way to Monkey's school there is a little side street that still looks almost entirely yellowish-orange, and it makes me smile every time I drive by.

But this fall has been difficult, a downer. That it should it be this way, surrounded by so much beauty, is a little ironic. I imagine, I know in fact, that there are people who took this fall's brilliance as one more good thing about their great big good fortune in recent months. And I know there isn't much I can talk to these happy people about.

A loss, a child's death, it changes things. I knew it even that first night. Intellectually,I knew it then. I knew it enough to usually not fight the emotions when they came, sometimes extremely predictable and other times strange, triggered by the usual suspects and by the weirdest things. But I can still be surprised. This fall has been tough for reasons I couldn't quite place. Until looking at the first tiny, prickly snowflakes yesterday reminded me that time passes only for the living. And that there isn't a part of me that can't be touched by this thing.


Birdies Mama said...

"Until looking at the first tiny, prickly snowflakes yesterday reminded me that time passes only for the living. And that there isn't a part of me that can't be touched by this thing."

How beautiful your writing is...and I especially love the last two sentences.

There is such a deep seeded part of us that can't be touched by this "thing".

I am thinking of you to Julia, and I hope that you too have a peaceful week.

Beruriah said...

The extreme changes in the fall make it impossible to ignore the passing of time, and are also a reminder, for me, of so much about last year at this time and what we were about to encounter.

I hope today is an easy day for you.

niobe said...

In my heart, it's always November, so, right now, the world aligns with my internal weather. Reading this post, I realize that the deaths haven't touched the most important parts of me at all. And I'm a little envious that you feel something different.

Magpie said...

And you think it's the last fall that's the first fall since...

Tash said...

You know, in a very sick way I'm almost relieved it's winter, because it means somehow I made it. I remember looking at the snow from the hospital last year wondering how on earth I'd ever get through another day, and here I am, rounding the turn on the final season.

My therapist said after her mother died, she couldn't see in color for a while, and remembers explicitly the day she finally realized she could again. I guess I have another turn of seasons, at least, to get through before I can do the same. I understand the beauty of the leaves, but in a very out-of-body way. Beautiful post.

Bon said...

tears in my eyes, Julia. this was beautifully written in its melancholy...and maybe you actually hit on what it is that i've always found so exquisite and yet sorrowful about fall, even long before i knew what grief is...in fall, in the evidence of decay, the fact that time indeed passes for the living is so evident.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said, Julia.