Last night the first blast of fall weather blew down off the mountains and dropped our temps into the high 30’s. I had to drive to Deming this morning, and the feel of driving in a coat, with crisp, cold air outside is one of those feelings of the season. As soon as a good frost comes it will draw the sugar out in our fall apples and we will have delicious work to do! Growing up just miles from the Equator line the seasons were different—rainy and dry, with very little actual temperature variation, but it didn’t take me long in my young adult years in Indiana to appreciate the march of time marked by cold and hot, green and brown, flowers and fruit. Round and round goes the planet, round and round goes the year, round and round go our lives, until some day we launch from the cycles into the Mystery.
So, why do we call it “Autumn” or “Fall?” The etymology of “autumn” may date back to the Etruscans, according to etymologonline.com, and mean “the drying-up season.” “Fall” evokes falling leaves, or the falling off of the year from Summer toward the cold of winter. Either way, change is in the air. Fall and Spring are transitions from extremes, who derive their identities not from peaks but from valleys and movement. Maybe “fall” is a good word for it, then.
I find within two responses. One is the hurry up and prepare, to harvest and store away. Maybe the ancient Irish and Scottish blood in me remembers winter all too well. I want to get busy with activity that I think will increase the likelihood of things being better rather than worse in the future. Perhaps this business is a form of prayer.
The other response is more contemplative. Part of me sits back and watches from the corner of the ceiling everything else going on in me and asks, “What does it mean to be in transition?” This part of me wants to watch more than act. Perhaps this watching is also a form of prayer.