Here in the Northeast, we are quickly moving into the fall season. The last day or so of August brings a change that says, “Get ready”, because there is a coolness in the air that is unmistakable. We have already seen a few leaves show a seasonal color change that will eventually rival the best imagination. Splashes of red, brown, orange and yellow have come out as the evenings have come more quickly and the morning dew has laid heavy and wet on the ground. Early morning fog now blankets river-valleys and fields in a wispy shroud of white, and the melancholy music of a string of geese overhead adds a hauntingly ancient sound as a backdrop for what is yet to come.
These things herald in a very nostalgic time of year for me, and for those who live in the Northeast. We look forward to it, and even though it means winter is moving in our direction, there are still plenty of clear, brilliantly colored days and brisk nights yet to be enjoyed. We are a hardy bunch, and this seasonal change stirs something in our blood and emotions that is hard to explain. It moves upon us quietly and brings an unspoken inward cry to come home, start the fire and gather the family around us. It causes us to remember life as it was, and as it should be, and we yearn to pass that on to the next generation.
I tend to be the first, of the first, to spot and announce those initial splashes of color that show up on the hills of the Adirondacks. In the later part of August I walk the banks of my trout streams and begin to look for those early “turners”. That’s the lone Maple, or the solitary Birch that seems to jump the gun and just has to change before the rest. I make my way around a bend in a stream and there it is, in all it’s glory. Overnight, an entire branch of brilliant red, orange or yellow leaves is waving in the chilled breeze saying, “Here I am! Now you can tell everyone that Fall is officially on the way!”
From that point on, every new day brings more and more vibrant colors to the land. I see it move from tree to tree, and hillside to valley. I can smell it on the cooling wind. The aroma of moist earth or a yellow blanket of newly fallen tamarack needles floating on a cold stream, are all part of it. The perfumed crunch of leaves under foot, and the hint of wood smoke in the air blend together into a rich mixture of smells, sounds and sights that permeates my clothes, my heart and my soul. Long forgotten memories of past autumns are stirred up, when family and friends gathered together and shared life. They bring to mind the laughter, the meals and the stories that were told over a mug of spiced cider or a slice of bread just pulled from the oven.
Fall is a time machine. It comes in on the breath of chilled Canadian air, and catches us up in brisk, clear, sunny days. It wraps us in the echoed gunshots on an autumn hillside and the earthy smells of an October forest. It is filled with change and visual images that enrich our lives down to the core. Winter is cold and barren. Spring is lush and muddy. Summer is hot and dry. But fall, …… fall is the memory maker. It is the Creator’s paintbrush, carried on the cooling breeze to the canvas of the earth. It is nature’s perfumer, experimenting with earth, leaves, water, soil and wood smoke. It is the primal symphony of winds that lift the song and the winged wonder of a string of geese as they “v” their way above.
Fall is the time we slow down and enjoy the last, lingering daylight hours of sun and warmth. These remind us that the beauty all around is a fleeting and wondrous thing, and it needs to be savored in the moment. It is the amazing sight of a huge orange moon rising above a harvested field. It is the scurry of squirrels collecting the last of the bounty they will need to carry them through the winter. It is the sight of wood stacked, the drumming a partridge and the smell of stoves and fireplaces set ablaze to drive out the dampness of frost kissed air. It is the smell of apple pies, sweet cider, roasted potatoes, corn, squash and meat cooking in an oven-warmed kitchen. Most of all, it is sharing the food of life with family and friends, and making memories, one slice of pie and cup of hot tea at a time.
This fall, slow down and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Make a few memories of your own. Connect with friends, neighbors, family, food and drink in a deliberate way. Choose to set aside some time to share a meal, or a cup of hot coffee, with those you love. Begin to enjoy the glory of making memories in the colored blaze of an Autumn world. All too soon your time on earth will be over, and then you will wish you had done more. Why? Because, then it will hit you that soon you will be the memory of others. I have learned that many things which seem so important, can actually wait, but making memories is not one one of them!
So in this wonderful season of colored change, put down the cell phone, turn off the TV, shut down the internet and close down your computer. Go meet with loved ones face to face. Share a meal, enjoy the view, tell stories of life well lived, breathe in the aromas of fall and become woven into the fabric of all that is to come. Let the sound, sight, smell, food and feel of autumn get inside you. Let it soak into your clothes, your thoughts, your bones and heart. Once it’s there, it will change everything, because you will become the stuff of fall memories for those who will follow after. Become the memory maker of others, and you will leave a great legacy behind. Fail to do so, and life will simply move on and fade into the future. Now, go make some memories and enjoy the beauty of this amazing time of year!