Intolerants Rant: Celebrating the Arrival of Fall
You’ll have to forgive me as I haven’t experienced a proper fall in about seven years, and when I say fall, I mean that transitional period of time when forests of trees bleed crimson and tangerine and you notice the first patterns of frost as they crystallize on your window pane. I’m talking about the time of year when the summer sun burns off the last of its heat and shifts gears to ride low on the horizon. These are the months when the clouds are stacked on top of one another in a vaporous orgy, their depth becoming something you can drown yourself in. It’s the time when you can almost smell winter coming as it hitches a ride on sharp winds that cut deep and that have a habit of forcing fragments past muscle and marrow.
Chilled particles that nestle deep within bone, the hollow that runs you through.
Perhaps I spent too long in Denmark, or Germany, or Belgium (or insert any other European country overrun by various scales of grey between October and May), but I find there’s something welcoming about an ash painted sky that’s flecked with violent bursts of rose and coral in the morning and smeared a vibrant buttered apricot at night. I don’t mind the grey of fall in truth and I rarely curse the rain, snow or the cover of perpetual dark. There’s a time and a place for short days and long inky nights. There’s something quite welcoming about it all: the shadows, the chill and the weight of a new season. A season that’s all about brooding and hibernating.
About keeping warm. Staying warm. Being warmer still.
This fall – winter cusp is a time when slowing down becomes acceptable and meaty fruits, earthy vegetables and piping hot stews are a coveted pleasure. Turning yourself inside becomes a sanctioned affair and choosing to hang back instead of hang out isn’t deemed unfriendly. No, fall is a time of disintegration and introspection. It’s about reflection and turning over. It’s about giving it up and moving on through.
So in honour of fall’s arrival I’m turning myself over to short, sunless days and deep eternal nights. I’m also planning on turning inwards and sticking my nose into literature that embodies the season. With that said, I’m reminded of a fall-ish poem drawn down by the ever prodigious Canadian poet/writer Margaret Atwood. Since she has the gift of being able to
conceptualize verbalize communicate many of the things I wish I could, I’ll leave it to her to spice up my melancholic fall musings with her on-point and, often, haunting lyricism.
Let fall begin.
Darkness waits apart from any occasion for it;
like sorrow it is always available.
This is only one kind,
The kind in which there are stars
above the leaves, brilliant as steel nails
and countless and without regard.
We are walking together
on dead wet leaves in the intermoon
among the looming nocturnal rocks
which would be pinkish gray
in daylight, gnawed and softened
by moss and ferns, which would be green,
in the musty fresh yeast smell
of trees rotting, earth returning
itself to itself
and I take your hand, which is the shape a hand
would be if you existed truly.
I wish to show you the darkness
you are so afraid of.
Trust me. This darkness
is a place you can enter and be
as safe in as you are anywhere;
you can put one foot in front of the other
and believe the sides of your eyes.
Memorize it. You will know it
again in your own time.
When the appearances of things have left you,
you will still have this darkness.
Something of your own you can carry with you.
We have come to the edge;
the lake gives off its hush;
in the outer night there is a barred owl
calling, like a moth
against the ear, from the far shore
which is invisible.
The lake, vast and dimensionless,
doubles everything, the stars,
the boulders, itself, even the darkness
that you can walk so long in
it becomes light.
*poem by Margaret Atwood