These are the wonders of my backyard in early autumn: dry warm breezes under rain-washed blue skies, sweet-blooming late roses and purple asters bright against the shrubbery, cheerful peeping goldfinches raiding the dried seedheads of wildflowers, fat gray squirrels chasing each other through overgrown grasses. Here’s a picture:
Even when I am bleak despite my blessings, like today, even when that gloom leads to guilt and frustration, the glories of the day do not disappear. They remain. I find it heartening.
This is my favorite time of year. The failing light of each shortened day foreshadows the chill and death of winter, but it isn’t here yet. This is not the end, every warm day whispers. Darkness will have its day. Be prepared, and be patient It will pass. Every breath of dusty,spicy fall air carries the world’s quiet confidence that spring will come again after the snows.
Sometimes the dull weight of my emotions bows my shoulders. Sometimes I choke on the bitter awareness that no one wants to hear how hard it is to be me, because it isn’t, really, except from the skewed perspective inside my own skull. When that happens, as it does now and then, that’s when I most need days like this.
The leaves have not yet changed, but the eye catches their yellowing tones. Bees and hornets hum around the overripe fruits of summer, and plants wilt and fade as the last crops of the year ripen fast. Every living thing I see is busy collecting the year’s bounty with a greedy, celebratory energy that is infinitely contagious.
Winter is coming, it all says, but not yet. Not now. My own darkness is not all that there is or ever will be. Life comes to nothing at the end of every autumn, but it hits winter with all the momentum that joy can bring to it, enough to carry through to the other side. Life goes on, not despite despair and misery, not defying them, but by accepting their appearance like passing partners in a never-ending dance.
Darkness cannot be defeated, but it can be weathered. Every bright autumn day reminds me that it can be done and will done. Again and again, one year after another. One day. Every day. Today.