Tuesday, September 20, 2011

anticipating fall

As I thought about writing this post, I realized that I had written in March about watching for the signs of spring, anticipating the end of snow and cold. It made me realize that I am a person who likes the changing seasons (fall and spring) better than the "real" seasons (winter and summer). I don't mind a few summer days where it's hot and the pool sounds like a great idea, but I get tired of trying to get a walk in or some weeding done before it's so hot that I am sweating until my glasses fall off. And I don't mind a few cold, snowy days in winter where I can sit curled up inside, tucked under a blanket, warming my hands and insides with hot chocolate, and watch the snow fall through the triangle of street lights. But, eventually, I want to go outside, and I get tired of worrying about cars sliding (and me slipping) on icy roads or the necessity of bundling up in layers and layers of sweater, coat, hat, mittens, scarf. I like spring and I like fall. The problem, of course, is that they are both so fleeting. Can that be why I like them--their very ephemeral nature?

Anyway, I was driving through the neighborhood this week--in a hurry, running an errand to a neighbor before going to work--and I saw this:
I'm afraid my jump-out-of-the-car-and-quickly-take-a-photo-with-your-phone picture doesn't quite capture what I saw, but I thought it looked like a huge cornstalk bouquet! Sure, the vase is a garbage can, but it still seemed like a big fall bouquet out there, just waiting to brighten my day the way any bouquet of flowers would. The sight made me realize that we are getting on to autumn. And, sure enough, yesterday I saw the reds showing up near the tops of the mountains. A sure sign.

In Alaska, we watch for weather signs all the time. In the fall, we watch the fireweed, a stalky wildflower that grows everywhere. Its purple flowers bloom from the bottom up, so we know that when the tops are blooming, the icy cold and the long nights are not far away. Then we watch for "termination dust," the first white dusting on the mountain tops that surround the city to tell us our snow blanket will be there soon. In the spring, we watch for "break-up" when the ice on rivers and lakes starts to break apart. A sign of hope. I grew up watching signs of the seasons, so I guess even though I don't live in Alaska anymore, I still do it.

Cornstalk bouquets and red and gold leaves tell me that autumn is just around the corner. I'm a little excited and a little sad.


  1. I just wrote about September, that changing month, & I too am both glad & sad. I love your photo opportunity; it does look just like a bouquet & they could have kept it for the Halloween decorations really. I also enjoyed that last paragraph about the signs you searched for in Alaska. I've never heard of termination dust, but we could certainly understand that term here in the Rockies/Denver. Happy Autumn on Friday!

  2. I feel the same way. Love the bouquet! Fall is my favorite season but so fleeting. Not much in the way of red and gold leaves in southeast Michigan yet but it won't be long. :)

  3. That is a fun bouquet! I think you did capture it with your phone/camera. I am intrigued by the fireweed plant, blooming from the bottom? That's interesting.

  4. Debbie! This post reminds me of ENGL 423 when I wrote the My House Has Stars piece about Kotzebue where "clocks don't tell time, but seasons do." It's so true, even in Utah. There are stories in the weather. We should write a picture book--you can write the words and I'll draw the pictures. I MISS you and CUWP and BYU. But I didn't miss Utah until I read your post! Rhode Island is interesting, in lots of good ways, I think. I'll post some New England fall pictures for you soon.