Sandi (the dog) and I took the long way home from our delivery last week. Our deviant behavior was rewarded with a show-stopping autumn color display along a deserted foggy Blue Ridge Parkway. Luckily it was deserted, because I kept stopping in the middle of the road to exclaim, “Sandi! Look at that!” and take yet another picture. Do dogs see color? Because Sandi seemed unimpressed. But I didn’t let that curb my enthusiasm. I know it’s noticing season, even if she doesn’t.
Autumn leaves are nature’s way of tripping us out of our chronic torpor. Fall is like a toddler stomping their feet and screaming “look at me! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!” We can’t help but notice. And noticing does not go un-rewarded. Colors crawl slowly down the mountain like waking on a lazy Sunday, tiptoeing into our beds before jumping up and down yelling “wake up!”
And so autumn becomes the noticing season. You can tell by the sudden appearance of weekend traffic jams in Wilkesboro-people are noticing. Seasonal changes seem designed to make us pay attention. The first appearance of green in the spring after the greys of winter, the fall leaves after we’ve become immune to green in the long-winded summers, all these shifts, year after year, stop us and force us to look up to pay attention to the beauty around us.
The killing frost has come and gone and left us with glorious autumn afternoons. The time pressure on farm work lifts (deconstruction happens on a much more flexible schedule), and our attention turns domestic. The detritus of lasts litters our countertops: the last beans, the last tomatoes, the last peppers. It’s our last chance to freeze, dry, pickle, and can theses lasts, and so we scurry around like squirrels before the winter, preserving whatever we can manage.
Some seasons, we’re better at mid-season preservation, but this season we did our best to preserve memories of adventures and food preservation fell by the wayside. It’s not like we’ll starve—we can live on the winter hardy greens and things we still have planted, it just limits our mid-winter meal choices. Alas, we’ll just have to thrive on the memories of those delicious warm season meals while we have yet another kale concoction.
Last Saturday, while Octoberfest shut down my market in Hickory, I took a walk down the beach to look for friends. I never found the friends I set out looking for but I found seventy-five others with whom to share the collective awe of what turned out to be one of the most beautiful sunrises ever. Pre-coffee, after a poor night’s sleep, but still the grin on my face grew. We shared a moment-me and these seventy-five would be friends-the gasps and exclamations, the smiles and knowing looks and kind comments. Talking to strangers about the beauty with which we began today, I knew-again-what bliss was.
I savored the moment. I actually stopped just to breath it in-to seal it in my memory for darker times. Because dark is just part of the light. You need the contrast to recognize the light. Darkness really steps up your light appreciation game. I get it. Moments are all we have, so creating them is the ideal course of action.
And so you have to say “yes”. Even as you worry, at least a little, about money, the farm, retirement, etc. ad nauseum, you have to prioritize “yes”. Because as David says, the more you say “yes”, the more adventures you’ll have. And those adventures become moments, and those moments become memories.
We stumbled past the equinox to stop in the solid footing of fall. And we find ourselves here, in this moment, in October, with no idea how we got here so fast and remain upright. It’s a mad thing, the main season—abundant with food, and scores of faces, and joy, and connection, and velocity. So much velocity that we inevitably arrive dumbstruck here in the October balm.
October is arguably the most beautiful month, with its days warm beneath a languid sun and nights slow and long and blanketed. We ease our aching bodies into its bath of lessened workload and lowered cortisol levels. We reflect and revise, formulate ideas of improvement. We glide awhile, just enjoying the view. We celebrate the season, birthdays, anniversaries, and those that passed before us. We soak in the Epsom salt of gratitude and linger there, catching our breath.