Linger in Fall

Today is September 10th.

No, wait: Today is September 10th.

Autumn, as I've long established, is my favorite season. The cooling air, the trees taking up their colors, the slant of the light: while I also love spring, autumn is my favorite because it is moody and sometimes dark and sometimes complicated and isn't afraid of letting things go.

September 10th is the crisp edge of the beginning of fall, and already I am sad; the trees haven't even started changing colors in the mountains yet, except for a few early patches on Maple Mountain, but it will happen so soon, and then a wind will come and blow everything away, and then autumn will be over.

It's a season you can't hold on to.

But I want to grasp it and hold tight, even though I know I can't.

Today in the shower, I was thinking about this, how I love fall but I don't ever really want fall to get here, because once it arrives it's already ending.

And I decided to set myself a challenge: to linger in fall by writing about it. I almost decided to do this on Instagram, but I'm hardly known for brevity and sometimes I bump up against that character limit Instagram sets. And I feel strangely vulnerable now, posting things on Facebook, because it seems like no one posts stuff like that anymore there, and when I do I feel exposed. 

So, what I'm going to do is pay attention. I'm going to watch for the moments in my day that feel like I am soaking deep inside of fall, and then I'm going to write about them.

My posts will probably not be long. They might be photo-heavy or have no photos at all. They won't happen every day.

But maybe by purposefully paying attention and then by recreating as best I can what I felt using words—maybe that will help me feel less like autumn is slipping through my fingers.

***

This morning, after I took Kaleb to school, I drove to the Dry Canyon trailhead. I was going to hike with my friend Wendy, but already, as I drove up the steep hills past the enormous houses on the road that leads to the trailhead, it was starting to rain.

Past the houses and through the gate that closes off the rest of the road in winter, there was a wildfire last week. It burned right up to the road, and the dead trees still smell crisply acrid, a bitter smell that is offset by the rain. When it falls on so much soil, rain doesn't smell like petrichor. Instead its scent is sweeter and larger, somehow, a billow of wet dirt and wet leaves, an organic and almost floral smell that makes me think  the trees are drinking?. 

I sat at the trailhead waiting for Wendy, reading my book in the truck while the windshield became almost opaque with rain, the door window open just enough to let the smell in. I was parked in front of the Great Blue Gate, one of my places I go to when I want to feel that nature is prescient and knows, in some stony way, that I exist. Thunder—we almost never have thunder in the mornings here—bounced inside the canyon and the wind made the trees shiver. I watched a couple climb out of their truck, take a selfie together, and then start up the trail, seemingly oblivious to the rain.

I knew it would be too wet to hike, and Wendy texted shortly to say she couldn't make it anyway (sick kid), but still. I sat there for a little while longer, listening to the rain. I thought about how last week it was still close to 100 but at that moment it was only 65, and I at last felt cool again. Summer breaking: that's what I witnessed this morning. There will be other hot days, of course. But from now on it will be more cool than hot, the sky moodier, the grass gone dry from August's lack of rain wilting in new, wet winds.