Attending to Fall

(This is a "raw" write. It is the result of a writing practice I do to explore my inner world; not meant for an audience, it is jagged and honest. Rarely will I share one, but the unapologetic quality seems to fit my morning's view of the coming season, and perhaps it will serve as an invitation to try writing from the place of spirit. An FYI: the mountain that suddenly appears is one we hiked this past weekend – changes in voice or pace often occur with this kind of writing.)

      The shadows in the woods are different these days. It is dappled, porous, and the sound of the air shimmering the leaves that remain rides on the flattening light. Summer's depths of shade and green have thinned. In my memory the foliage of June and July seems succulent – now it is crunchy and kicking along with my footsteps as I walk the dog on the familiar trails across the street.
      My heart starts to thin too in the fall – at least, it feels like it has risen out of the depths of the near-decadent wallowing it does in the sounds and smells and ripeness of full summer. I feel it thinning out in the coming cold, gripping in tension as color fades from the landscape. I am more shut inside, turn inward to tasks to keep my mind off the change, and yet – and yet – there is a knowing that finally when we come to rest in winter, that will be the time of letting go, the time of dreaming. And so this transition could be something else, not so brittle, if I actually turn and attend to it straight on. What if I just go down into the field and lay in the grass, feeling the cold earth beneath, listening to what is, what is – not aching for what was?
      This is the practice then, the practice of being present to the isness of the transition, neither looking behind nor ahead. And might I find that in fact it is not an in-between, it is itself? Yes, yes, my head is telling me I already know this. So what is it? (It is so much easier to find excuses than to do the work.) What is it about fall? OK, gloves off – I don't like the colors: they are too bright, too showy and they have stolen my green. – I don't like to be cold, at all. I loved the heat of the summer. In coldness, I become more lifeless. And just what do I mean by lifeless? It's that thinning again. I am not in my body, I bump into mental and spiritual walls and back out of living to the level of lists.
      Walking, walking up the mountain I begin to warm. Some woods feel good – I imagine these leggy diseased beech trees pillowed in deep snow and think I would like to come snowshoeing here in the whiteness and sunlight of February. Then the old uncut spruce forest, gaping darkness, softness and quiet – I feel the ancientness here, church-like, not a place to settle into, though. Then the krumholz near the summit, the gruff dwarves of the mountains' trees, old but short and gnarled, apprehended by ice and wind over and over, and yet tenacious. And then it is Bob and me standing on the bald rocks, and – exposed to the wind – the layer of sweat near my skin begins to chill. I put on more and more coats, but my instinct is to tighten inward, find shelter, hide. There is no glory in this, no invigoration. And that is just what is, for me. Maybe I don't need to befriend the cold. Maybe just turning and attending to this season will only reveal that indeed, it is not my story, there is no fecundity here, it just is, for awhile, and I will be in it, cold earth below, night-sky clarity above, and be thin.