“Besides the autumn poets sing…”

Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.
~Emily Dickinson

There’s been a marked change in the weather over the last few days.

First, KRuss noticed it at our four-hour Saturday practice, and we all laughed that anything under 100 degrees feels “cool.” 

On Sunday, I went to Barton Springs and didn’t feel as compelled to get in the water.  I did, and it felt amazing, but I wasn’t desperate for relief from the heat.  I was completely comfortable, lounging in the sun on my big blanket and towel, my book propped against my hip.

Then, last night, I played what may be our last wiffle ball game of the season.  I noted with wonder that I wasn’t sweating profusely in the way that I had at nearly every other game all summer.  It was glorious…and heartrending.

And this morning, taking Marley out in the dark at 6:00am, I hugged my arms to my chest against the chill, and realized that my feet were cold against the slick wood of the porch. 

On those first days of fall, the air smells different.  It triggers a tightness in my chest, sparked by nostalgic memories of orange leaves crunching under my feet and sweaters wrapped snug against my shoulders.  I can almost feel the firmness of my field hockey stick in my hand; the burn of frosty air in my throat.

Even though I no longer live in the northeast, and the shift in temperature here in Texas is subtle at best, my body responds to the change in the same way.  I crave food made with nutmeg and cinnamon; I long for the crackle of a wood stove and a good pumpkin for carving.  I want to retreat back to being a kid in a Halloween costume, worried only about the weather cooperating for trick-or-treating. 

My mood has been subdued for the last few days.  I’ve been slower to laugh and sleep eludes me.  I love the fall.  It may even be my favorite season.  But as I sense this transition, I sit down a little deeper in my thoughts, aware of the chapters that are constantly beginning…and ending.  

Just a few days ago I wrote about celebrating the summer, and now here I am reveling in (or wrestling with) impending fall.  I anticipate that this “cold snap” will be short-lived, and that we haven’t seen our last 100+ degree day here in Austin for 2011.  But right now, there’s a tangible and definable difference, and it’s a preview of what’s in store.  The kids are back at school, and people are starting to talk about the World Series.  I’m seeing Halloween candy in the drugstores, and thinking about pulling my scarves out of the closet.  The change in season is both welcome and melancholy, especially as I struggle with the concrete and heady changes in my own life.  I’m staying on my feet, but there’s no question that I’m stumbling here and there and that my balance is definitely a little off. 

So I have to wonder – is this why we call it fall?