When I was in grade 2 or 3, I recall the teacher writing the names of the seasons on the blackboard in block letters. Then she asked the students, which time of year is your favourite? The vast majority chirped ‘summer!’ A few said ‘spring’. But I was the only kid in the class who said I loved ‘autumn’. I must have known myself fairly well, as that hasn’t changed.
While I love aspects of every season, I have always been drawn to fall. Even today, I was reading a children’s book, and the illustrations with nearly naked trees, piles of orange leaves, and a low moon made me long for those months. Of course I never wish my time away, but during those shortening days, I tend to feel the most contented.
Spring and summer are full of playful energy, and expectation. In a sense, those seasons are open and inviting. I keep thinking of fiddleheads, and how they unfurl in the warmth, revealing themselves. Autumn is different. It allows us to fill up and settle down. To give in to fatigue. To get ready to rest and sleep, in hopes of rejuvenation. Autumn is protective, it layers and folds over itself in comforting predictability.
There is a particular smell on damp October evenings. I’m not exactly sure what it is – perhaps a combination of wood smoke and rotting leaves and upturned earth shaved clean of pumpkin and cabbage. Sometimes it arrives inside the car as I’m driving. I catch a strand, and then it’s gone. No one else seems to notice it, but it’s one of my absolute favourite smells.
I’ll have to wait. Summer is now on the horizon, lifting up its green shoulders. Lots of sunshine, barbecues, fresh local fruit to enjoy. And if I’m really lucky, a few lazy hours to think and dream and write.