Into the Mystic: Autumn
The changing of the seasons often evoke fond memories, as temperatures drop and days get shorter
Living in Phoenix for eight years, I grew accustomed to hearing my wife say about this time every year: “I sure do miss the seasons.”
I sure loved living in the desert Southwest, but now that I am back in the upper Midwest I realize how much I miss – if not all the seasons (winter comes to mind) – this time of year when the days grow short, the breeze cools and stiffens, and the leaves begin to change color.
As another autumn approaches, I am taken back to the years of my childhood and remembering why I always thought this was my favorite time of the year.
To be sure, some of what I love about this season is the cool night air, the leaves changing colors and falling from the tree, and the nights coming a little earlier.
But as I think more and more about it, some of what I feel is a deep sense of joy that attaches less to what is happening around me than to what once happened to me.
There are memories that linger that come flooding back to me when fall arrives.
One of the highlights of my childhood was the weekend every year of our parish carnival. We got the Friday off school as our parking lot became home to ferris wheels and roller coasters, burger and brat stalls, games of chance at which prizes could be won, old beat up cars you could pay a quarter to beat at with a sledge hammer, popcorn and cotton candy – all sorts of merriment that a child could lose themselves in day after day after day. I remember it would be the first weekend of the year where the jackets and sweaters would come out.
Saturdays in fall were also filled with what was my favorite childhood pastime- soccer! All through the fall, with each week getting cooler and cooler, Mom and Day would pile us into the two cars and split up the duty of taking all seven of us to our various games throughout the city at varying times. The level of coordination this took was simply astounding – but every week they did it. John played at Tiemeyer park at 8:30, Jim at Aubuchon at 9:45; Jeff at St. Ann’s at 10:30; Jerry back at Aubuchon at 3:00. Dad would have half of us and Mom the other half and it was the most exciting day of the week. Even today, when a cool breeze blows on a cloudy fall Saturday I feel a sense of the thrill of suiting up for the game and heading out in the car to play.
Sunday afternoons in the fall meant sitting on the couch in the living room with Dad and watching football; while Sunday afternoons and evenings were spent in the kitchen as mom prepared the most sumptuous feast of the week – often with grandparents, aunt/uncles, and cousins joining us.
What I feel about the fall is precious to me – and mostly about magnificent childhood experiences. The changes in temperature and mood still bring those days back to me. There is a somber feel to it all as days grow shorter and temperatures drop. The fireplace replaces my front porch as my evening settling ground. And I feel a quieting of the soul and spirit even as the playful memories of my childhood take me back in time.
I know why my wife missed the changing of the seasons. I feel again the pleasure of a new season coming. Sure, I didn’t complain about 350 days of sunshine while living in the desert southwest, but there is for me again a healing that takes place as the Earth settles in for its slowing down.
I pray that you, too, might enjoy this season of change, this chilling of the wind and shortening of the light. It will make the springtime more precious when it circles back around.
Breathe in the cool night air.
Soak in the coloring landscape.
Settle around the fire as the chill expands.
Let there be much to contemplate as we surface precious memories that linger and receive new thoughts that inspire on this, our journey Into the Mystic.