I’ve had seasonal nostalgia for a couple of weeks now. That is, I keep getting metal whiffs of October. And by October, I mean Fall in Virginia. I have all these wonderful snapshots in my mind of how the air smelled, how the sky looked, how the weather felt, and added to those, snippets and bites of Fall mornings in high school and college (which usually fell closer to December, weather-wise)–times that I was on my own, just me, my thoughts, and the weather.
The best description of Autumn I’ve ever read came out of Madeleine L’Engle’s book An Acceptable Time.
She walked through an orchard, fallen apples red and cidery on the ground, crossed a stone wall, and entered on into a small wood. The path was carpeted with leaves, red, orange, gold, giving off a rich, earthy smell. Polly scuffed along, pushing the toes of her running shoes through the lavish brightness. It was her first New England Autumn, and she was exhilarated by the colors drifting from the trees, dappling her hair with reflected amber and bronze. The sun shone with a golden haze through a muted blue sky. Leaves whispered to the ground. The air was crisp, but not cold. She hummed with contentment.
I want to hum with contentment, instead of sighing with weariness at the heat. It’s been oppressive the last couple of days, combined with a humidity that makes you feel like you’re wearing a wet, wool blanket when you try to stand outside for more than five minutes. Add to that the chemical in the air from all the mosquito spraying that’s been going on, and you have a recipe for shortness of breath. I do, anyway.
We lived in Virginia for the larger part of my elementary school years. Kindergarten and First, I did in Alabama. That little A dot in the photo up there marks the spot of our house. See all that water? It went in a crescent shape around the neighborhood. One winter, when school was closed due to snow, while Dad was in D.C., and Mom had to work, I was at home, where I was expected to behave. I behaved myself right around the neighborhood on the ice that had formed over that water. I only fell through twice. Fortunately, my only permanent damage is some frost bite on my toes. That, and a scarred psyche that means Thor will not be left on his own until he is 20.
But see all those trees? I spent a lot of time in those trees. I had a wonderful jungle gym and a trampoline, and employed both to gain access into those branches. I’m amazed I never fell out of one, especially considering I used to jump from one into another, like a monkey. There was a pine tree in the front yard (that Google Earth shows is still there) and I would take a book and a thermos up into it so high I could look down on the roof of the two-story house, then sit and read until the swaying made me too motion sick to stay up there any longer.
I loved that house, and I loved those trees. And I loved the water. It was beautiful in the Fall.