Conceding to Autumn
Out in the wood-burning country, the long fire has not yet been lit. Some mornings you can smell the tang of wood smoke mingling with fog in the valleys, but the woodstoves die out again in the tepid afternoons. The wind scatters leaves accross the shingles, against windows and clapboards, but it's a warm wind. Some nub of the season began with the first bare trees--the sudden exposure of so much reptilian bark--but it wont be comfirmed until the woodstoves burn contuniously, banked at night, stoked in the morning, right through till spring.
The sweet acrid smell of Fall began to rise from the drifting leaves two weeks ago and more. But the weather has stalled, caught in some eddy of late Summer, and the only thing carrying us forward into the proper feel of the season is the changing light. There is no exaggerating the potency of that shift in light, the effect of the two or three minutes of brightness that erode each day, washed away into the night. Every single thing in nature feels it, not as an omen or a reminder of Winter, but as something far more profound, the depth and amplitude of time itself. Every living thing is unconsciously looking for its equilibrium, hiving, burrowing, nesting, gathering, haring and furring up. The fact that we take these changes as a sign of Autumn is almost comical, a measure of our capacity for abstraction. these things are Autumn.
The light falls just as swiftly in the city, too, of course. Suddenly it's dark in the streets when work is over, and suddenly the city seems like a collection of brightly light interior spaces rather than a maze of opaque buildings. In Summer the warmth and light in the street outside pull you through the revolving doors. Those doors get heavier and heavier, harder to turn, about now.
The big jump will come this weekend when we return to real time. It is always one of the strangest moments of the year. Nothing changes but the schedule of our awareness, and yet it feels like an astronomical jolt, an abrupt shift in our orbit around the sun. It is our one grudging concession to the changing scale of light, while all the rest of nature gladly concedes around us.◦