Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. – F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s fall in the Pacific Northwest. I can still break a sweat on my daily power walk. And my t-shirts haven’t been filed under “T” for Taboga quite yet. But the chill mornings and snuggle-under-a-blanket evenings are here. The leaves are turning orange and red and yellow and dropping to the ground. The fog lingers a bit longer into the day. School playgrounds are filled with the sounds of children at recess.
Fall has always felt more like the beginning of the year to me than January. There is a feeling of excitement in the air, like something is about to happen.
Something is about to happen. Sweaters are being resurrected from their summer hibernation. Soup and stew recipes float to the top of my recipe book. The holidays start peeking in the windows and whispering ideas for this year’s celebrations. As sorry as I am to see the summer end, I surprise myself with how ready I am for the coming season.
We spent the early part of September up in the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, on our sailboat. The anchorages, normally filled with the sounds of kids swimming and playing on the beaches were quiet. Spots for boats were taken by those of us who don’t have to return to the city for school deadlines.
Without lunches to make, homework to help with, packets of papers to fill out for the teachers and a job to run to after dropping kids off at school, fall has become a reflective time for me. A time to walk and smell the rich smell of leaves and damp dirt becoming mulch. To watch as flocks of birds take to the sky for their long journey south. To think about all the love I have in my life.
Fall was my father’s favorite season. He often quoted Keats’ Ode to Autumn, challenging us to name the author.“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; close bosomed friend of the maturing sun,” he’d recite, asking, “Who wrote that?” To me he’d always add with a twinkle in his eye, “my English major.”
I miss him deeply during fall, but I in some ways he feels closer than during the other times of year. I can still hear his voice asking if I wanted to take a walk with him, or share a cup of Earl Grey tea, or, later in my life, a glass of scotch. This season is the time I get to spend with his memory and to appreciate the moments we would have shared were he still here.
Soon the Seattle rains will start. The sky will turn gray and the damp will begin to sink into our bones. But then, just when the holidays have ended and the long winter takes hold – lucky us – we will jump on a plane and head down to Isla Taboga, Panama. Lovely, sweet, warm, sunny Taboga. There’s room for you if you want to come!
Until then, I plan to take a little time each day to enjoy the beauty. To enjoy the way the sun at this time of year slants in golden loveliness and to feel the chill air on my face. To cook fall foods and wear warm socks and buy pumpkins.
Enjoy every minute. It’s all connected. It’s all beautiful. And it’s all a gift.