By Connie Denney
(NOTE: The essence of this column appeared in this space October 2, 2007.)
By the time you read this, fall will have officially begun. We have experienced the “autumnal equinox.”
An equinox, scientifically speaking, is “either of two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and celestial equator intersect,” according to my research. Thankfully, there is a bit-easier-to-digest group of words that says it is “one of two times a year when the sun crosses the equator, and the day and night are of approximately equal length.”
Enough research! Whether or not it will be so this year, fall is a season many speak of as “so beautiful” or “my favorite season.” Guess it’s not surprising that such talk can lead to pictorial and written assignments for publication.
Several falls ago, 1980 to be exact, a younger friend of mine had such an assignment. She was quite an accomplished photographer but felt a bit insecure about writing something to go with photographs to make the feature assignment complete.
She called. I wrote. She made the publication deadline. I have thought since about that law-of-supply-and-demand, necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention kind of thing. Is inspiration overrated? Maybe inspiration/motivation just comes from a variety of sources.
Several falls later I was motivated to participate in another seasonal experience I have come to feel was inspired. My mother, two aunts and I took a New England trip. We spent two weeks on the road, setting our own schedule, staying no two nights in the same place with the exception of Bar Harbor, Maine. That was our point of departure for going into Nova Scotia and base for checking out Acadia National Park.
Our travels north took us into 11 states, counting neither Tennessee nor Nova Scotia. On the trip back home we followed a different route and were in seven, again excluding our home state. A couple of these we did not hit on the way up! We covered a lot of territory, enjoyed good food and beautiful scenery and learned a lot.
Two things we learned to “re-appreciate.” It is always good to get back home. It is a blessing to have friends and family—a blessing, indeed, to have friends IN the family.
At any rate, it seems a good time to share this bit of free verse from the 1980 memory.
It’s many things to many people; it’s different things to different people. It’s symbolism; it’s reality.
Fall is what leaves, snowflakes, rain, empires and, sometimes, people do. It’s a matter of gravity and of inevitable consequences of strategies gone awry.
Fall is a season, a mood. It is a buffer between simmering sun and piercing cold. Even its name is softened by the muted tones of autumn. It’s schizophrenic with its chilling morns and its light-splashed noons.
Fall is the time of maturity and of ripening, of harvesting the good with the bad and somehow separating so that we rejoice in one and learn from the other. It’s a time of rest and preparation so that what’s to come is movement from one season into the next—not a shock. It makes possible a kind of grace—the kind that’s defined by a leaf floating to its resting place to continue nature’s cycle. It’s a time for preparing for spring’s life.
To jump from bounding youth into the unsure steps of aging would be confusion and disaster. To move with the grace of time is a beauty.
It may be a child wondering at the contrast of a naked tree that was a week ago ablaze with color, or may be noticing that the sunset’s reflection is seen in the water far from its glimmering mirror of a few months ago. Whatever else it is, fall is a gift of God’s grace.