Autumn is probably my favorite time of year. There is apple cider and cinnamon sticks and caramel candy and pumpkin everything. It’s the time of year to make soup and banana bread and roasted chicken with root vegetables. There is Halloween and cute children dressed up like princesses and superheroes and pumpkins. Like I said, pumpkins are everywhere. Autumn is adorable and cozy.
How can this be? Everything is dying. The leaves on the trees are positively screaming in Technicolor as they die on the branch. They hang on by their little wavering stems to their trees for dear life, but with enough wind, they simply cannot hang on any longer. They all let go. They flutter down to the lawn to be raked to the curb and carted off by the leaf truck on cold Friday mornings.
My father let go just as autumn was getting started and so there is a great rift between this death and the startling beauty of the season. How can death create such a lovely backdrop to every activity: bike riding, walking the dog, driving to the store? Even grocery shopping becomes enchanting on an autumn day. These are the kind of days when you can’t wait to get home with onions; to brown them with ground sirloin for a vat of chili for Sunday’s football game. Sundays in autumn are good, even if you are not a diehard football fan, even if you just lost your father.
Let’s face it. There is no time that death is not upon us. Someone is dying somewhere every day. Every minute. Every second. And, while this is happening, new people are being born. Someone leaves, someone arrives, someone needs a kind word and a plate of fried onions, someone holds a child in a pumpkin suit. Someone picks up someone’s ashes and puts them someplace for safe keeping. Someone dresses up like a fairy and goes out for a night of fun and dancing. Someone arrives. Someone leaves.
The world does not stop to do anything about any of this shuffling of souls. The world just keeps churning along on its merry way. It is only we who mark some days with joy, some with sorrow. The world will have none of our rinky-dink judgments. Every day is a good day as far as the world is concerned.
Birds fly, sun rises, trees lose their tresses to the wind. We make new friends, start new jobs, run out of toilet paper, check Facebook. We cannot stem the tide of death nor control the next birth. We can only witness what transpires and keep our hearts light and fiery, as vibrant as leaves dying before winter’s first freeze.