Fall is not my favorite season: it ranks #3 behind summer and spring. I am a summer baby. I enjoy the warmth, the daylight, the minimal layers of clothing.
The reality of this particular fall lends itself to a single invitation: yard work. NOT that work is bad or that I avoid working. There simply seems to be an insurmountable amount of work to be done for by person.
My list (are YOU a list maker,too?) still bears the scribble of tasks that I hoped to have completed during the summer months, but just didn't get around to it: distributing the remaining 20+ cubic yards of mulch and topsoil, pressure washing the house, patio, front walk, basketball backboard and driveway, clipping back the neighbors forsythia bushes which have grown through the wire fencing and began putting out runners - yet again - into my lawn, picking up the branches left behind by the arborist who thinned the pear and maple trees and removed several dead branches from the old apple. The last item was replacing the bent, rusted wire fencing with galvanized fencing and stronger,longer support poles.
My fall list includes engaging someone to clean the gutters in the back of the house - much to high for the ladder I own - and perhaps patching a small area of the roof that has been damaged. I know that because the ceiling in my home office right around the exhaust pipe has burst, the plaster has come down and mold is creeping in. Winter weather will only compound that damage. The front yard needs mowing that one last time before I put an additive in the remainder of fuel in the mowers gas tank to protect both the tank and the gas. Fall grass seed with special fertilizer needs to be applied with the broadcast spreader and weed whacking to be done around the patio and fence line in the back yard.
Oh, if I only had the guile and persuasive powers of Tom Sawyer... to get the neighborhood kids to come and pick up the twigs, snip back the encroaching forsythia and distribute the wheelbarrows full of needed nutrients and soil to the areas of my backyard where the roots of the trees, unable to penetrate the rock table (did I mention I live in ROCKland
county???)grow up and through the thin layer of earth above. This pattern has begun to make it impossible to mow the backyard properly without destroying the blades of my mower.
All of this landscape work is impacted by the diminshing daylight. Thanks to Congress, this will be the first October in 41 years which will not see daylight saving time to go into effect. The change has been postponed until the first Sunday in November, ostensibly for energy saving purposes.
All of this being said, the display of color in the leaves remaining on the vines and trees in my region are breathtaking. Taxi cab yellow, pale lemon, lime, fucia, maroon, purple, tan, burnt siena, brown, tangerine, pumpkin and creamsicle orange shout their last hurrah before they haven't the strength to hold onto the branches any longer.
I have fond memories of raking leaves in mid-November into enormous heaps. Then, while dropping the rakes, barreling with wild abandon into the heaping piles, belly flopping into the crunchiness that smelled of earth with an edge. My exasperatted father only shook his head and directed my sister and me to clean up the piles once again. We would come into the apartment afterward, cheeks and noses cold and rosey, and be instructed to go directly into the bathroom to change and wash up; it was easier to sweep up all the crumpled leaf particles from the bathroom floor rather than having them tracked into each room of the apartment.
My other memory of leaves is recalling that it was the one thing we kids would be allowed to do to get apart from the grownups after Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of watching football, we were 'allowed' to go and rake. My cousins, sister and I would compete for the best leaf dive.
As it stands in the here and now, I'll have to rake,gather and compact the leaves into a minimum of 12 tall biodegradable bags and deliver them to the highway department via my ever faithful Henrietta Honda.
Perhaps it is time to make my annual silent personal retreat: autumn is the season that reminds me of the fragile nature of life and own my mortality in the omnipresent cyclicar scheme things. I am in the autumn of my earthly life and older than my father was when he died. A good season to set apart time with God for meditating on the mortal and the immortal - the constancy of change and the constancy of the Divine in it all. Perhaps I will be granted the grace to face that fall feeling with more hope, optimism and wonder. Amen, come Lord Christ and set my heart aflame with love for you and the rest of the path we will journey down together.