Thursday, October 13, 2016

Auroras of Autumn

Photo Credit: Moi.

The season changes. A cold wind chills the beach.
The long lines of it grow longer, emptier,
A darkness gathers though it does not fall

And the whiteness grows less vivid on the wall.
The man who is walking turns blankly on the sand.
He observes how the north is always enlarging the change,

With its frigid brilliances, its blue-red sweeps
And gusts of great enkindlings, its polar green,
The color of ice and fire and solitude.

~ Wallace Stevens, The Auroras of Autumn, II.6-8

It is definitely autumn in my neck of the woods.  It came in like a lamb, with unusually warm weather.  Now the biting chill is all the more sharp in the wind, the grey clouds threaten snow with every raindrop they shed.  The nights are coming faster now, and lean in against the windows much darker than they did in summer. 

I love autumn.  I am one of the few people that would rather be cold than hot, if forced to choose an extreme form between the two.  One can always add more layers, I argue, while there is a certain limit to how much attire one can shed appropriately.  But even aside from comfort, there is the ideal of hygge instilled in me from my Scandinavian blood.  The ideal of coziness, of being wrapped in a quilt or large sweater, of safeness, of sentiment, and of love.  Lighting candles, drinking cocoa or apple cider, eating pies and soups and fresh-baked breads.  Crackling fires against the darkened afternoon sky.  All of this describes the sense of hygge that rekindles in the moments of starkness in autumn that warn me of the impending winter, and of the coming holiday season.

And yet during the hours of daylight--when it is not raining, that is--autumn is very much alive.  This is odd.  In contrast to the green sleepiness of summer, when it is far to warm and muggy to do much of anything, autumn snaps into action with colors on every tree, the wind cascading the leaves to the ground, and the sun somehow sparkling more than usual.  There is so much to do during these times, an instinct of Harvest makes me want to bake and make preserves and soups and gather firewood and provisions before going into hibernation. 

I once tried to emulate Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden.  Mary, weak and sickly when she's brought to hardy and windswept Yorkshire, becomes strong by running around in the brisk air outdoors.  I wasn't sickly, but at a tender preadolescent age I felt self-conscious and weak.  I ran around our front yard, sucking in the wind to improve my lungs. 

I believe I got a very bad head-cold from it.  Obviously Frances Hodgson Burnett was taking literary license and had no medical expertise on the subject.

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