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From my earliest memory, autumn has always been my favorite time of year. There’s something about the world as it prepares itself for rest, for sleep, that just resonates deeply with who I am. There’s a different quality to the air, a crispness, that wipes the scenery clean and allows me to look at the familiar and see the fabulous.

It’s a season of enchantments, of trees blooming afire, of streets sporting carpets of foliage. It’s a season that seems to evoke the market stall atmosphere that somewhere in my soul is remembered – the season of the harvest.

Last night as I sat journaling in the half light, I watched the thin branches of the birch tree whipping in the frenzy that only a still autumn wind inspires. I loved the feeling of the wind rushing into the living room where I sat quietly, sweeping even the air in the house clean. Inspiring quietude.

And for me, it’s not just the natural world that lifts me to heights and flights of fancy in autumn – it’s all the human traditions, all the small things that get repeated year to year.

I love watching neighborhoods transform sculpted lawns into graveyards and landscaped gardens into mausoleums and treacherous paths of spooktacular delight.

I love eating candy corn and those sugary pumpkins that ought to come with warning labels and a required trip to the dentist.

I love candy apples, and apple cider.

I love watching the trees each day, and marking their progress from green to gold, orange, and crimson.

I love taking shuffling, shambling walks through town, kicking up swirls of leaves with each step.

I love knowing that it won’t be long before I’m curled up before the woodburner in my dad’s shop, basking in the heat of a fall fire.

I love the apple pies with the sugar-crumble crusts that dad makes this time of year. It never fails – he gets a taste for it, and we all come home to splendor.

I love sweaters, and jeans, and boots, and hoodies. I love the comfort clothes that I can finally wear again.

I love sliding my smooth legs into autumn-crisp sheets, and pulling out the extra quilts, and sleeping with the windows open to the night sounds and night air.

I love that school is in session – even if I’m not enrolled at the moment. I love the feeling I had buying all the supplies on the list, and new pens, and new paper. I love remembering that feeling of starting off on another new adventure each year.

I love pumpkins and gourds. I love the market stands stacked full of ripe produce. I love zucchini bread.

I love the palette of autumn – one of the times when I feel most at ease in the world around me as it mirrors the way I feel inside. I love the fading greens, the flashy golds, the warm oranges, the passionate reds, the sumptuous browns all around me.

I love being reminded now, more than any other time of year, that people once believed in magic. That they saw the evidence of it swirling all around them. That the once gave homage to gods and goddesses. That they once had good reason to rejoice in the harvest, and to count each moment precious.

I love being reminded of the mystery of it all. For me, autumn has ever seemed the season that required the most faith – to rejoice in the beauty and bounty around you, while knowing that the world prepares for sleep. Knowing that winter’s on its way. Knowing that you have faith enough to believe that spring will come again, and set us in motion for another cycle of sleep and rebirth.

I’m savoring these days, knowing their briefness makes them precious. I’m allowing myself to be enraptured, to enjoy this latest tryst in my long love affair with autumn.

I think that the majority of the Midwest took a collective breath, and sigh of relief yesterday. The oppressive heat and humidity that for weeks had been turning us all into vaguely damp and listless shadows of our former selves has finally broken.

I was able to turn off the air conditioning for the first time in weeks (thank you, thank you God – our checkbook, which absolutely flinched at the last utility bill thanks you, too).

I was able to throw open the windows and draw in cool, fresh air – the kind of summer air that lights, soft as a kiss, upon your skin (as opposed to what we had before, which was air that lay on your skin like some kind of wet tarp, smothering you).

I am such a lover of fall! Every year, at about the end of May, I start to look forward to September. Some people, like my fiancé, not only enjoy the summer and its hellish barrage of heat, but revel in it. He loves it. He wallows in it like an otter in a river. I fade. I go utterly transparent – all my sass and fire melt out and pool around my feet. All my ambition runs out, all my joie de vivre dissipates. And I spend the summer months (especially this summer, which according to the forecasters, has been the hottest summer in a decade) longing for fall.

I love fall. I cannot be alone in this: people loved this season so much, they christened it twice: once descriptively (fall), once poetically (autumn). Mmmm. Autumn. (Imagine Homer Simpson drooling over a doughnut…that’s how I feel, anticipating fall!!)

This morning, with the windows thrown open, has felt like a benediction. Like a promise, a foretelling. Like a lifeline, telling me to just hang on a bit longer, because soon every day will feel like this.

I love the clear cloudless blue skies of fall – I don’t think that they look quite the same any other time. I love the crispness of the air, the freshness. I love that it feels like something to be appreciated, since you know what’s coming after. I love the way the leaves always seem to turn all-of-a-sudden. Every year I watch and watch, trying to make sure that I catch the trees segueing from one palette to the next. No dice – somehow, I always seem to walk out the door to a world awash in brilliant sunset colors, having somehow missed the turning.

I love the mood of fall – a little bit pensive, a little bit joyful. I love pumpkins. I love tall fields of cornstalks rattling their dry and dusty bones in the crisp fall wind. I love leaves bunching, blown into corners and doorways. I love them carpeting streets with brilliance and jewel-toned color. I love the crunch they make under my feet. I slosh through them, kicking them up, like a kid.

Today, I am loving exactly what is: sweet summer air wafting into the windows, filling the house with the best of summer (wildflower smells, soft sunshine). Today, I am cherishing this brief reprieve from the kiln of summer’s torments. Hope the rest of you are enjoying it, too!!

Our first jack-o-lantern, made by Wittler from an "accidental" pumpkin we got from Mark & Mel

Our first jack-o-lantern, made by Wittler from an "accidental" pumpkin we got from Mark & Mel

I have always loved autumn. I love the jeweled trees, the leaf-bedecked streets. I love the crispness of the air, and the bite in the wind – an atmosphere where all facades are cleared away and the truth of things emerges.

 I love to look around and see what the seasons of creation have wrought – to watch as plump pumpkins appear on doorsteps, and woodsmoke begins to waft through twilight evenings. I love this time of harvest – of bringing in all the products of growth.

 I love to look out over the fields and see the jittery bones of cornstalks marching off into the distance, mellow-golden soldiers standing at the ready, anticipating the time when their usefulness comes to an end. I love the birds bunching from one field to the next, schooling and pooling in the air-sea. I love the geese announcing their plans to travel, their intention to shift their families to warmer climes and sunnier shores.

 I have never had the sense of depression or moroseness that others have about this enchanted season – I look around me and see celebration, wholeness, fullness, cycle – birth and rebirth. The endings encountered now give way to new opportunities – autumn speaks to me of that lull that always seems to follow bursts of growth – where we are given time to settle into the changes that have come so that we may start off again rested, and with a strong step.

 I like the sleepiness of the fall – I like that everything sinks slowly down, back into the earth. I like to watch this process of rejuvenation. Autumn is only sad if you believe that there will never be another spring, that there will never be another time of fecund growth and boisterous creation.

 My life mirrors this cycle – instead of mourning the endings (for they surely and inevitably come), I try to find the gift in the experience I’ve had, and look to the potential of the new coming to me over the horizon. For me, autumn is more about the potential and promise of the new beginning than it is about mourning change.

 I love the way that people seem to regain their sense of wonder, their childlike fascination, with the beauty and the majesty and the mystery of our world – autumn is a visceral, visual reminder that the cycles continue, the world has her own agenda. It reconnects us to something primal and deep – the naturalness of change, the necessity of change… and the accompanying promise of a new gift to follow.

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

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"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)