Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Yesterday I Saw an Orange Leaf

A friend of mine who grew up in the Midwest says that after living here in the Northeast for several years, he observes that on September 1, the light changes, the air changes, and everything about summer begins to wane rapidly.

I still keep trying to tell myself it's psychological conditioning (back to school--all that stuff); but there is always, for me, a wistful quality to early September and I believe my friend's insight about the angle of light, coupled with the onset of no-longer-deniably shorter days, has something to do with it.

I have already blogged about how winter excites in me a seething hate bordering on that of the birthers for Obama. I have unfortunately allowed that hate to overflow into a near-dislike of everyone's favorite season (fall) on grounds that it is simply an early phase of winter and harbinger of much worse to come (weatherwise).

Now that we have been handed a summer generally so wet it might have been able to confuse the Creature from the Black Lagoon into relaxing on my front porch thinking he was still underwater, I feel like I must fight to deny fall any toehold--the better to forestall the onset of the great unhappy freeze that reduces the Northeast to a soggy, sad excuse for staying indoors and looking at art and watching movies instead of, say, roasting kielbasa over a propane fire.

Hence my denial of all signs of the arrival of a season not called summer but that inevitably seems to follow it in the seasonal cycle. Perhaps perversely, I have therefore grown keen-eyed in my scan of the summerscape, looking for signs of decay. For several days into September I saw no change. Even a patch of new grass seed I had recently laid had sprung and grew thick and yet wispy like the hair of a green young angel. Even until today there has still been no thought of needing a thing called "jacket".

But yesterday, on my way back from the County Fair up in the Hudson Valley, I spotted, quite suddenly and in a place it had certainly not been noticed the day before, a tree with leaves beginning to turn orange. I caught my breath. Summer was beginning to fail me--faithless, green summer now beginning its long swoon to the crackling ice and black sucking mud and the dark, unforgiving days of winter. In summer, people can picnic in the woods. In winter, people who are stuck in the woods freeze to death. Freeze to death! Winter is an indignity not to be borne without strong resentment.

And now we are on our way. The leaves have (in the Hudson Valley anyway) begun to turn. Before we know it, we'll be trying to keep our ears warm (a ridiculous notion!).

I am determined to remain in denial for at least several more days. I think I can last until the twentieth of the month. Then, kicking orange leaves with my boot, I will have to think about raking them and piling them and to begin counting the long days until spring.