He sat down at his computer desk. Resilient; braced by the cold. The deadly stars signaling down upon him a hope that science couldn’t understand. Hope couldn’t be calculated numerically. But what could be measured, in a way, deadened the beauty of the firmament. Beautiful mystery became cold, deadly reality. The curiosity of childhood became the death of adulthood. Rotting in the ground. What do the dead have to live for, really?
The cold awakens a man. I could never understand, for the life of me, why anyone would want to live in the arctic or anarctic. The cold, to me, meant school. Wee hours of the morning, shaken from a warm bed, and comforting sleep. To painful fingers, sharp breaths, and crotchetiness. Or snow, which just meant more painful fingers. (“Snowmen” were always an overrated disappointment). Cold was always the enemy.
And yet, not quite. There were always the moments, before the snow would fall, which produced a magical wonder that I still can’t explain. The falling of the leaves, the sharpness of the cold, awakened the sunshine within my heart. There was just something about the fall. Movies, set during the fall, produced this same enjoyment. The cold weather, and the dead leaves, woke me. I knew that more death was coming; more dead limbs, more grass consumed by the white coffin. But that made the dying all the more precious. Those moments, before death, were beautiful. There’s always a potential for profundity during dying. Tragic are those who don’t experience that during their final moments. I pray for enlightenment for all during their final moments…
Then, things came alive, and everyone was happy. I suppose I never really complained about it. But the feeling was not the same as in autumn. It was unexplainable. Perhaps a mental disorder. More likely, just a personality quirk. But there’s no time of year quite like autumn. It makes me wish it would never end. I suppose it is like living each day as if it were your last. No one thinks about death during the spring, when everything is being born. Nor the summer, when things are being watered (if not drowned) by torrentials. They think about death in the fall, and, most of all, in the winter. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that spring and summer are more well-liked than autumn and winter. But I’m always just a little bit weird.
There’s usually a lot of good in the summer. Swimming, and camping. Ice cream, cold drinks. Flame-grilled animals wafting through the hot air; sports. Lots of fun. But there’s not the mood that autumn provides. Sure, summer produces its own mood. But autumn produces this different mood. One might call it “pure elation”. The same feeling others feel during the spring, or the summer. It isn’t about piling up leaves, and jumping in them. It’s the fact that the dead leaves exist at all. Hanging from the trees, providing the backdrop for ominous imaginings. Halloween is the time for monsters, afterall. It could be the fact that autumn is the beginning of family time. Holidays are always an excuse to get together with family, and the end of the year seems to include more family time than any other time of year (of course, there’s the 4th of July. But the “holiday season” is Halloween, but, more importantly and seriously, Thanksgiving and Christmas (important and serious simply because of the contrasting moods of Thanksgiving and Christmas as compared to Halloween. Halloween is still important)). And, as always, there’s more delicious food than any other time of year (unless you’re always around an older woman who enjoys cooking, and enjoys satisfying her family with her food). But yet, there’s something more.
Autumn is the time of year where you can be inside, or outside, and still be comfortable. The storms of the summer have long gone. No more clouds. No more thunder and lightning, or deluge. Clear skies. Clear, cold, starry skies. Comfortable inside, and out. Inside providing that warm, sleepy comfort, which becomes more pronounced when the trees are sticks, and the ground is ivory. But the outdoors become a nuisance. A hazard. Ice is the “name of the game”. And the ice can destroy your indoor comforts, until some pitiful men come and help make your inside more bearable.
But the autumn isn’t that severe. It’s cold enough to wake you up, but not cold enough to make you want to kill yourself. Not quite cold enough to get deathly ill (unless you’re stupid enough to still try to swim in the summer lakes and rivers). No, autumn is the time between awakenness and sleepiness. The time after running around, and the time before electric blankets. It is the time of laying on the grass outside, looking at the stars in the coldness, and imagining just how much colder it is up there than it is down here. Just how hot those stars really are. There’s no math, necessarily, required, to appreciate the beauty of nature. Complementary, but not comprehensive. At least not to this dreaming poet.
The time is coming for sweaters and heaters and feasts and family and presents and pine. And there’s another special time, sooner than this, where everyone pretends to be monsters, and laughs, high on chocolate, or punch. Gorging on more fictional blood than normal; a time when only the most staunch “Christians” oppose the gorefest. One would hope, and pray, that even the most Conservative among us let loose, and enjoy a bloody flick this time a year. God, I would hope so…
I know, to many, spring is their favorite time of the year, because the plants come back to life from the frost. I can only stare at a tree for so long until I get bored. “Spring” means “clean”: it’s time for the dust of winter to go. I suppose I’m much to lazy to actually enjoy cleaning. I do enjoy it when I finally feel like taking the initiative, but to do it constantly diminishes the beauty of it. I don’t want eclipses to become mundane.
To some, summer is their favorite time of the year, much for the same reason: being outdoors, grilling or swimming or camping or hiking. Connecting with nature. Some enjoy being in “summer” constantly, and wish to be there, even if they can’t. They never get enough of beaches and bikinis, and, sometimes, booze.
To some insane souls, winter is their favorite time of year. Their unholy souls are warmed by the white coffin. Perhaps they are sadists who enjoy seeing people slip upon the ice. (Some people enjoy being where winter exists year-round, to see how “tough” they really are. Admirable, but I’m much too soft for that. At least, at the moment).
But autumn is where my heart lies. Could it be because this is the time of year where the color orange boldly thrusts itself upon an unsuspecting populace? Pumpkins and Crayola drawings of leaves from children and candy corns? Orange does have a way of catching the eye. The orange of October turns into the brown of November, into the white of December. (Interesting how, in this case, white means death. Normally, black, its opposite, means death. But aren’t there some old sayings about seeing a bright white light when one dies? We pretend to know what death is in October, with black everywhere, and zombies, and actors pretending to be murderers. But December is when everything really dies. It becomes dead and blinding, almost like actually dying, according to many accounts of Christians. Could that be why many Christians hate Halloween? Not only the demons, but the fact that it is the time of pretending to be dead, instead of actually dying, which is what their entire lives revolve around?) But, oddly enough, people’s spirits come to life in the autumn. No, in truth, they never really die. Souls are alive in the spring, alive in the summer, alive in the fall, and, yes, even alive in the winter. An excuse to cuddle up with a blanket, and just be happy. Remember that? Before you had to go to school, remember how you felt when you came inside after playing outside in the snow? Remember how happy that made you? You could’ve avoided the outside altogether. But it wouldn’t have been as good. Isn’t that interesting? The cold made you happier to be warm. It provided you with a comfort that you normally didn’t feel. That you took for granted. That’s rather interesting, isn’t it?
Some of the perverted (mainly Conservatives, as it were), will use that fact to suggest that we should all stand outside in the snow, naked, catching all kinds of sicknesses, to appreciate our heaters inside. I’m not that perverted and sadistic. Rather, I’m honest enough, and good enough of a person, to merely say that I enjoy the autumn. No, I love the autumn. There’s no other time in the world like it. I don’t know how I’d feel if I ever lived in a place that didn’t have autumn. I fear it would drive me mad. I love this time of year, and I plan on enjoying it for the short time it makes a visit. I hope, maybe, if you’re one who doesn’t enjoy the changing of the season, particularly when it gets colder, that I’ve maybe caused you to reconsider your position. Take in that sharp breath of cold air, and wake up. Or go inside and have a hot drink, if you wish. I think I’ll stare at the stars for a while longer, and soak in the frozen canvas. And, besides: isn’t that what makes paintings so special? Hell, not only paintings, but photographs, and books, and movies? The fact that they are frozen in time, and constant? Never-changing? We know what to expect from them once we’ve experienced them. And that, in itself, is comforting. It’s just refreshing to be slapped in the face by cold air every once in a while, as well.