By Dave Markwell
Autumn is a fickle time. It is a time of the frenetic energy of kids going back to school dancing in concert with the languid dimming of the summer season and the death of leaves. It’s a strange time, being both a little exciting and a little melancholy at the same time. It’s hard to define autumn as anything but autumn. It’s kind of a “you know it when you see it (feel it)” kind of thing. Nonetheless, I like the season in spite of, or because of, its lack of clear lines. I am never in any hurry to shoo summer away, but I also understand that clinging too much to anything in this world typically ends poorly, so I accept what is and will be: cool mornings, some fog, shorter evenings, long pants, and the stashing of my flip flops in the back of my closet for a long few months.
In reflecting on my history of autumns, I recall misty walks to school with my buddies, muddy sports practices, dark mornings eating cereal at the kitchen table listening to KJR as my dad drank coffee and did crossword puzzles before work. Later, I remember driving to high school and frantically copying homework in the parking lot before the warning bells rang. I remember the feel and the smell of anticipation and possibility.
Later still, I held my young daughter’s hand as my son fought imaginary villains with kicks and strikes and lots of weird noises on our daily walk to school. I smelled the damp sea air and my history, and I felt the anticipation and possibility then too, but more for my kids than myself. This year my daughter will be driving herself to college and my son is already gone. I suppose all of our morning walks have led us here and, though I anticipated these days many years ago, being here is a different thing. It’s not a bad thing, and I suppose it’s a good thing, but it’s really just a different thing.
In spite of the sometimes painfully long streaks of “groundhog days”, where time is lost and change is imperceptible, life is always moving. When we bump into the milestones of age and growth we are reminded that the days mattered. These fond recollections are closely tied to the low water level of autumn, when the rushing snow melt of spring and summer has been flushed to the sea and we can safely stand in the current and observe. We see wonderful things here. We see the details. We see the moments in smell and feel and our minds’ eyes are sharp as we count the blades of grass in our lives. These blades of grass tell our stories and they are nice to read once in a while, or at least once a year, with a cup of coffee while looking into the fog of an autumn morning.
Soon, this morning, as all others, will retreat to its place in the patchy, green lawn of my life’s collection of moments and though individually it won’t look like much more than another blade of grass, when I slow down and lean in for a closer look, maybe next year, maybe in many years, I will see that it was special and it mattered. Autumn is a good time for these thoughts, and these thoughts are a fine reward for the death of leaves…
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!”