Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stark Naked

A few weeks ago I was severely depressed. Labor Day came, and the “autumn” switch got flipped right with the calendar page. We went from highs in the 80s and even 90s to frost warnings in the course of a weekend. Fall is usually my favorite time of year, but, as I faced the certainty of my second complete winter since my return from the tropics staring my face, I was unnerved. The color of the leaves began changing, and while fall colors are my favorite palate in the world, I kept looking past them to the moment they would be gone and the world would be left bleak and grey.

Fortunately we did get our miracle of a proper Indian summer in October - a week of days with temperatures in the 70s and even some 80s after a couple of hard freezes. The colors were glorious and the sun shone brightly.

All it took was a thunderstorm followed by couple of windy days and the leaves were gone, and even the tamarack trees shed their needles in golden snow flurries. The tree branches were left shivering with embarrassment at their sudden nakedness in the shadowy October moonlight.

But then, as I drove home on a clear afternoon I looked out over an expanse of grey tree branches and I saw in them the stark beauty of winter. I had been dreading it so much that I had forgotten the clarity that comes with the season. Where summer is thick with humidity and crowded with vegetation springing up everywhere, late autumn and winter are crisp and fresh and everything pulls back and gives you room to breath. I can see through the forest now, even to see the light from my parents’ house a quarter mile away, shining through the branches. They eyes can stretch again and you can see deer passing through the woods hundreds of yards away.

Even the more monotone color wheel brings a sigh of relief after the absolute riot of color that was autumn and the intense greeness of the world of summer. The eye only needs to process one color at a time, not millions. Life suddenly seems to have become simpler, clearer, cleaner. And when there is color now, the world really means it, and focuses on making it the best color there is.

I’m still not sure my tropic-thinned blood is ready for another long winter, but my eye and my mind are ready for the clear air and bright days ahead.

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