I am so grateful that we have been writing letters to each other. As I’ve mentioned many times, putting pen to paper allows (forces) me to think differently. It’s been a gift. A blessing.
As I write to you on this October morning, it is still dark. In the past, I hated losing the early morning light as summer faded into fall. Yet this year, I am feeling differently about it. I love these dark mornings, when the sun doesn’t rise until close to 8 AM. I am not required to rise early in order to have this sacred time of being up, putting pen to paper of some sort, and allowing my thoughts to flow on the page.
It’s like I’m secretly stealing a part of the day, and I can pretend that I am the only one in the neighborhood awake.
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the idea of autumn: crisp breezes, brilliant foliage, bonfires, and plaid woolen skirts with heavy sweaters. But of course, I never experienced any of those things as a girl in Texas. Instead, our unbearable scorching Augusts merged into a sticky September, and despite a return to school in plaid skirts and sweaters, I never experienced the autumns I read about in Trixie Belden or Anne of Green Gables.
Autumn in the Midwest is different.
My first year here in Ohio, I only flirted with autumn during my visits with John. I spent the bulk of that fall working on selling my house, not officially leaving my beloved Texas until December. Winter was challenging that year. I remember feeling a little lonely and looking towards the spring as a savior.
When it was already late March and John was in Philadelphia for a conference, it began to snow.
I sobbed. Feeling pretty darned hopeless that despite some of my flowers blooming, that spring would never really arrive. Homesick. Aching for soft drawls, my mother’s fried okra, sweet tea, and the bloom of crepe myrtles.
By the time autumn came around, I discovered I’d succumbed to the seduction of the earth, and was connecting to the rhythm of the seasons. It took that first full year – one whole trip around the sun – living here, to believe that this place, this Ohio, could become home.
Each year here allows me to connect differently to the natural cycle of the seasons. As I mentioned earlier, I’d always been fascinated with the idea of fall – and other seasons – and how Mother Nature’s palate continually changes. Now, at the birth of my sixth year here, I anticipate favorite moments in time based on the natural world around me.
Spring brings the daffodils and tulips, tiny green leaves on the birch tree, and the white blossoms of the Bradford Pears out back. Summer brings brilliant color: lots of blooms on the roses, vinca, and marigolds and oodles of lush green: grass, trees, and frogs in our pond.
Autumn has become my favorite. The greens slowly begin to fade everywhere and the leaves shift to all those colors we think of as earth tones: yellows, oranges, browns. Though my grass tends to stay greenish, the ornamental grasses ripen to rusts and goldenrod.
This year, I am connecting to the season even more deeply.
There’s the beauty around me, of course. And I must confess that I am feeling cozy. As I write you this letter, I am wrapped in a soft grey robe and there’s a light knit blanket tossed over my lap. We slept with the windows open last night and the crisp air floated over us, caressing us as we slept and bringing us both soft and loving dreams.
I dreamed of a favorite uncle last night. He passed away in 2002, but when I woke with that crisp, cool air floating through the screens, I still felt the warmth of his love and the remembrance of the dream… the last thing he said before I woke was “Yes, Scooterbill, there’s fresh coffee brewing…”
But I digress. I was talking about the connection to the season this year, even more than years past.
Maybe it’s because of the idea that autumn is the time of harvest. I have been harvesting heavily this year. Taking a hard look at the work I’ve done over the last six years. I know we’ve talked about this before, but I have to say that turning digital coaching products into real books feels like I am harvesting the seeds I planted in the spring of my own life.
I am loving all my fall rituals even more this year. I was so happy to put John’s long sleeved polos on the top rack and dig out my favorite cardigans. I’ve distributed them a bit, with the Olive Green one resting on the back of my office chair and the Alice Blue one nestled in the dining room. My sweat pants and jeans have replaced my shorts. And I’ve dug out the soft throws, with one accessible in any room on the backs of sofas and chairs.
There’s just something special about the weight of a blanket across the legs, isn’t there? We had wine on the deck last night, and I took one of my blankets out with us, to toss across my lap and enjoy the air and comfort and warmth.
Dare I confess what I’ve been thinking? As we both know, putting pen to paper and breathing life into it allows our thoughts to be out there. But, here goes:
In 19 months, I will be fifty. Is that why I am connecting to – and identifying – with autumn so deeply this year?
And while I’m in confession mode, I may as well make one more: I’m looking forward to winter this year, too.
Can you fathom that?
Six years ago, I was sobbing because of the snow and now the idea of it makes me feel almost giddy.
When I was exalting all of my favorite parts of the season before, I hadn’t gotten to the beauty of winter before I went off on my Autumn tangent.
Winter is cold, yes. And winter brings the snow. That first year, it was a shock, but now, there is such stark beauty in it. It reminds me to slow down, to stop, to savor. The cardinal couple regularly visits my neighbor’s bird-feeder and sometimes one -or both – will perch on the window sill above the front door.
I am looking forward to resting this year. To celebrate the end of harvesting – all the work I’ve been doing – and readying myself for the next phase of planting. Seeds of new ideas are always floating around me, but come next spring, it will be time to plant what’s important.
Ah, but in the winter, I can mimic my beloved bulbs. While it seems as if I’m not working, underneath I’m preparing to bloom.
I’ve been thinking about the winter in other ways, too. I long to do something with my hands because far too often it’s as if my hands are independent of my brain, and they reach for my phone and scroll and click and scroll and click. Maybe I should take up cross stitching again. Or shall I take knitting lessons? I want to make something, be productive, allow my hands to be satisfied with something tactile to replace the urge to pick up the phone.
Because, frankly, the phone isn’t restful or nourishing beyond the opportunity to check in with friends. It shouldn’t serve as a way to distract myself – or numb, should it?
And I want to make something. Something beyond my current creative expression of words.
I’ve rambled on for far too long. It’s time to get back to some writing for work, put the sheets in the dryer and the towels in the washer, and ponder something beyond this cup of coffee for breakfast.
So, tell me about you. How are you feeling about autumn this year? Are you seeing the beauty like I am? Are you finding comfort in the shorter days and unearthing secrets in the dark? Are you harvesting and looking forward to resting in the winter?
And do you think that all this connection has to do with that looming birthday ahead?
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. When she’s not waiting for the mailman, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.