A fan of yellow beside the neighbor’s house announces one tree’s leap into autumn.
The news says there’s a foot of snow in Harrison, Nebraska. Likely they weren’t quite ready for that even with a lifetime spent in the upper and unpredictable High Plains. Snow. In early October. A trace, maybe. Yeah, they could expect that. But a foot?
The cold crumpled my shoulders and a musty sigh, mourning my absence, escaped from the storage closet as I pulled out my red fleece shawl, its first morning in nearly eight months since spring came early and warm. A good friend, it comforts my shoulders during morning musings and waits across the chair back, arms wide and welcoming, whenever I return throughout the day.
Last week, we saw the first red splash of maple leaves, a bell-rung harbinger of fall. After a summer of drought, and scarce rain after, the vision signing the normal turn of earth and seasons felt comforting.
Just now, the wind lifts the top oak branches outside my window, a delicate lift like a ballerina’s plié, then drifts off to find some other, more willing tree to trouble. From my childhood’s memory, I hear Joe Kenney, the weatherman in Lincoln, Nebraska say “variable winds,” but I prefer ballerinas, dancing a minuet, played by a harpsichord.
We always know these changes are coming and yet, when they do, we are surprised, and lift our heads like school children, popping up, alarmed. Did we wait too long, too long?
I still have a backyard to clean, the garden needs putting to bed, and the last of the tomatoes picked. After the heat of summer, they picked up troubled heads, unwilling to leave all their promise unfulfilled, and put on more – handfuls of grape tomatoes that reached enough ripeness to use and some hard green tennis balls that may never ripen, even wrapped in newspaper, relegated to one more batch of fried green tomatoes. My son will be pleased.
The world turns and we with it.
Fall is here.