By Eliza Jones
The October world outside my window today is a kaleidoscope of whirling warm colors — blazing yellow and sunset red, pumpkin swirl orange, ivory and deep violet Mums in pots of terracotta. But there is a chill off the harbor. The sea is ripping steely blue. The sun is warm but the air holds in its breath, the scent of change and of winter and of cold.
I have a friend who hates late fall. He’s a skier. He grew up in the mountains of New Hampshire and he counts down the days until first snow like it’s gold. He says that it’s the “in-between” time shouldering fiery fall and white winter that he doesn’t like, those dark days in November when the sun sets at four o’clock and the leaves are gone off the trees and everything is still and gray and silent. No snow for skiing, but too cold to do anything else.
I don’t think so. As illuminated and robust as this October day is, I don’t hold on to it feverishly. I don’t cling to the last whispers of fading summer nor do I wish madly for inches of snow.
I see hints of creeping November out in the streets and in the woods. The stream behind my parents’ field sings of it. The curling leaves that crunch underneath my slow steps speak of it; the wind that roars across the harbor today claims more of them. They skip and skitter and scatter to the pavement.
Soon the sunset reds and yellows and oranges will sink into the quiet stillness of that dreaded “in-between” time. But I don’t dread it.
It should be a time for planning and hunkering down, for reacquainting ourselves with the corners of our homes and our minds. It is a time for reading, for catching our breath, for walking in the woods and hunting, for baking, for warming our hands over fires and friends. Late fall in Maine is a slow bittersweet song. It may be easy to discard it, to wish it away for the first snow or for the mad jingling rush of the holidays — or, for some unfortunate souls living here, for spring — but this time of year is a special season on its own. It doesn’t need to shoulder anything. It has plenty of spirit to offer on its own.