I shivered the other day when I stepped outside for my morning walk. The sky was the same clear blue it had been most mornings all summer long, and it probably was not any cooler than any other morning walk. Though still clearly summer, something in the air suddenly felt like fall. The air seemed a little crisper. The rising sun seemed to hang a bit lower in the sky, and the light seemed to be glowing with the tiniest hint of amber. I noticed that morning the trees in the park were just beginning to change their leaves into their autumn wardrobe. As the day progressed into the warmth of a summer afternoon the soft breeze tried to pinch with the slightest bite. The late afternoon chased into evening and the sky radiated warm gold. It was still nearly a month until the fall equinox, yet summer signaled its time had come to an end.
It was both startling and exhilarating that the change of seasons was marked so subtly and clearly. The change was so understated I almost could not believe my own senses. But several points of evidence agreed beyond a shadow of a doubt that time was marching forward. We have possibly had the most exquisite spring and summer weather in memory with nearly every day, save for a few exceptions, leaving me longing to be outside all day. I’ve known it would come to an end, but for some reason the turning pages of time took me by surprise in spite of the months-long running start. Maybe I subconsciously hoped it might never end.
On my morning walk I instinctively slowed down as I digested what was going on around me. I needed to savor every last moment of the summer that clearly announced it was time to start saying goodbye. While the days of any season are always limited, the formal countdown to the next one had begun. Ready or not, autumn had slowly begun to make its way into the limelight. My grief and deliberateness over the impending closure of summer was tempered by my eagerness for lovely brisk, sunny days of fall. Of course, those crisp, sunny fall days can be scarce, so I suppose I look forward to fall with more hope than eagerness.
The first evidence of impending fall is just as momentous as the first bite of summer. As summer gently rolls into fall every year I am reminded what little control I have over life. The seasons rotate on a predictable cycle that is always filled with unique nuance and exception, making the expected somewhat unpredictable. The only control I have is to accept it, and welcome the change, and do my best to adapt my own needs, habits, wants, and goals to the changing environment. It feels like strategic planning on the plane of a whole, individual life. The words of Ecclesiastes that inspired Pete Seeger must certainly have been scripted as the emerging indicators of fall were coming to life.
The beginning of the background cooling of the warm summer days prompts me to stop and reflect on my goals and accomplishments. What had I set out to do back in January, and what choices have I made that have led me to accomplish some goals or change paths? Do my intentions and priorities from some months ago still make sense in the same way? I had not anticipated a number of events eight months ago, such as a car accident or being elected treasurer for two organizations. I’ve accomplished some personal and professional goals, but others I’ve had to re-arrange completely. The earliest signs of fall feel like the last meaningful opportunity to evaluate what I want to accomplish in the next five months, and check in with myself about milestones and progress.
As ominous as it all sounds, I love fall. Fall is regal. Fall is rich and robust. The nurturing time leading up to it ripens into luscious blossoming maturity in the vibrant shift between the heat of summer and the damp and cold of musty winter. That shiver I felt meant the best is yet to come. In fall I will have the greatest opportunities to indulge personally, professionally, and on the dining room table.