This is a season I have not seen, hardly felt, for many years. We are in that season
between the overt exuberance just before the harvest and the space when soil freezes, exhaling its moisture into crystallized dawn. The harvest.
When I say feel I mean when I am reminded of the season through many visits to friends where I felt the cold creep though my clothes, a mild chill that was still enticing and refreshing, that reminded me of that time of change. And now, for the first time in ages, I am seeing it up close again, all around me.
The mountains we see on the drive to work are a patchwork of the remaining changing leaves, an autumn quilt thrown askew under a sheet of mist. Fall leaves look magical whether still clinging to hibernating limbs or tossed afield and laid slick on the roadside, or peppering the back lawn of my new home. I can’t look at them enough, or remind the kids enough to look at them, even as the spindly bare branches poke through billows of bright yellow and red.
The harvest I’ve seen is of corn, the constant moving of cattle herds, or the rolled and drying balls of grass. On the back roads leading to the interstate there are small white houses for calves and the slow lumbering of tractors at night. More and more I see the open carcasses of animals, skunks and possums and, soon, deer.
Spring forward, fall back.
To say that I haven’t seen snow in over five years isn’t saying much, or to say that the leaves where I lived never changed; they either died quickly or stayed green forever, banana trees fitted with tight bunches of un-edible fruit and bamboo thickening and leave-less. It does something to a person to not see changing seasons. I’m not sure what, but I’m slowing learning now all that I have been missing.
Wet sweater weather. Where I used to live it was only rain, rain for days with no freeze. Where I drove there was only asphalt and the only time it would move was in the summer, when the high temperatures would slide it around like eggs and butter for breakfast, like the oil in a tan. Here, the overcast is like a cataract, spread over the sky like a smear.
In the dark before dawn is my waking hour, and every day I fight the urge to crawl back into bed with him, that pale shifting bottle of warmth eking out grunting sighs or opening one eye at a time, not recognizing me every single morning. I watch him lumber out to where the bathroom light was left on all night. I hear his own snore in his son’s, one door down, and soon we will get them both up, tug on shoes and make another day come early.
We go out on the back deck less and less often now, feeling the wet slick of the boards under our bare feet, our skin steaming under our clothes. Cold brings out the peaks of skin, the want to turn like a lathe into one another, thigh and calf turning and turning until there’s a pinhole of heat that becomes the whole world, for an instant.
I’ve said it aloud a few times. I am falling in love with you. And it always sounds silly when I say it, but when I look at him, when I trace the lines of his brow and his mouth with my fingers over and over again, it’s the only think I can think to say. I am in love with you.
Pretty soon there will be no leaves, and we will have to start all over again. The harvest.