Coming or Going?

geeseI watch the geese at this time of year, the time of year when they know what they should be doing and the direction they should be heading. And, in spite of responding to an internal imperative to fly south, they seem, on many days, to be heading north.

I can identify. I, too, know what I should be doing and the directions I should be heading and, yet, I can’t seem to figure out if I’m coming or going.

I should be making candy. It’s the beginning of candy season and I have ideas for sweet new concoctions. I should be making those goodies, taking photos of them, and preparing them for sale.

I should be ironing linens. I’ve lucked into many new caches of vintage wonderfulness lately—some beautiful pieces in lovely condition. This is the time of year people look to buy pretty things for their holiday tables and for gifts. I should be ironing.

I should be cutting back perennials. And raking leaves. And putting the geraniums to bed.

I should be writing substantive, deep, and thought-provoking blog posts instead of just posting photos as I have mostly been doing lately.

I should be doing some deep house cleaning (have you seen my shower?)

I should be winding warp because no weaving can occur without a warp to weave into. I should baste a quilt because no quilting can occur without basting first.

So much I should be doing . . .

But all I want to do is travel the byways of upstate New York, immersing myself in the wonders of the season, enjoying autumn.

We drove across New York this past weekend and went through the Adirondacks. Already, two weeks before the date we associate with peak color, we saw trees a-blazing. We saw fall everywhere we looked.

We were driving with a focus, we had places to go, so I just tried to gather as many impressions as I could. My impressions began with the awareness that everything is happening early this year—the people who take the leaf-peeper tours on Columbus Day weekend are going to miss the show, I’m afraid!

I also had the impression that the reds that make this region so spectacular, especially from the maples, are particularly bright and splashy this year. This isn’t a one-dimensional red but ranges from burgundy to flame red to cerise. Some leaves are streaked with stripes of red and green. Add the bright sun and the breeze rustling the leaves and you’ll get one million shades of red. This is what’s meant by the phrase “eye dazzling”!

I had the impression that this, this autumn, is the perfect autumn. The days are “black and blue”—moments of bright and sunny skies, broken in arresting ways by big dark clouds that add drama.

Enough with impressions.

I need to go out and move slowly, and savor this perfect autumn.

I want the smell of wood smoke and the smell of the sun on fallen pine needles.

I want the taste of cake donuts, made with apple cider and covered with cinnamon sugar.

I want the sound of the crunch of leaves as I shuffle through them and the sound of those silly geese, honking their heads off.

I want to feel the warm sun on my shoulders, leavened by a crisp breeze on my face.

Most of all, I need the sights of autumn. The sky the color we call “Adirondack blue.” The leaves putting on a show I can only seem to find trite descriptors for, a show that really does defy description. And the reflection of those colors, softer, moodier, muted, in every pond and stream.

This season, this moment, can’t be postponed. Autumn, the season, may last until December but the essence of fall in the North Country is ever so fleeting.

So, I say to hell with those things I should be doing. This time, the “shoulds” will be trumped by the “wants” and “needs”! Coming or going? My own internal imperative insists that I be going.

Going out to meet autumn, joyfully.

24 thoughts on “Coming or Going?

  1. Savour and enjoy! We have just had our warmest September on record and I have been distracted from sewing and blogging by the beauty of outdoors. But it’s soon gonna disappear so I feel Its justified…as are you.

  2. You didn’t need to include photos of those beautiful autumn leaves…you painted them with your words. Yes, it seems everything is happening early this year. My hummingbirds left two days earlier than they did last year and last year they left extremely early. We’ve had some nights down in the 40s so I guess that was their sign to head south. And I guess those cold nights are turning the color of the leaves to red and gold. You are right to take the time to enjoy autumn.

    • Thanks, Susan–words seem so inadequate when describing such a scene! I need to learn more about the science of hen and why leaves change colors so I can better predict when it’ll happen. Every year it surprises me!

  3. Autumn can be so fleeting, you’re right to enjoy it. Our colours here aren’t at full richness yet, but still good to see. And OUR geese, so busily flying day after day, we now understand will stick around for winter. I have no idea why they make themselves so busy. How can cleaning the shower compare with the pleasures of watching the changing seasons?

    • We went out for a drive yesterday and, already, some of the spots we traveled were past “peak” color–sort of burned out looking. But other spots were glorious! I’m skipping shower cleaning again today!

  4. Absolutely you must go out and enjoy. There is something about the cool mornings at this time of year that recharges my batteries 🙂

  5. Oh I applaud your activity! You are doing what we should all be doing – taking time to appreciate the natural beauty around us – the rest can wait! I am so fortunate now to have a puppy who must be walked daily. It made me get up and out, earlier and earlier as spring approached. Now I look forward to my early morning walk and sometimes too, our late evening walk. Yesterday the air was redolent with new cut grass. It seemed everyone had taken time mid week to mow their lawns and our evening walk was pure delight! These are the small joys that keep me out of my painting room 🙂

    • I think it’s wonderful to have a puppy to walk with and to remind you of small joys! We drove around, looking at autumn sights, yesterday, and I found myself thinking it would be better to be walking. We wouldn’t see so many spots but we’d see them so much better.

  6. *This isn’t a one-dimensional red but ranges from burgundy to flame red to cerise. Some leaves are streaked with stripes of red and green. Add the bright sun and the breeze rustling the leaves and you’ll get one million shades of red.*

    Sometimes your writing just knocks me off my chair!

    I had the privilege of growing up in New York, and you are making long for those old New York autumns so badly I could cry. Unfortunately, no matter how great your descriptions, the readers can’t know how wonderful those upstate autumns are. Because even if someone lives where the trees turn red and orange and yellow, if there aren’t enough deciduous trees–especially maples–the fragrance of leaf mould is missing. And without that fragrance, people don’t know what they’re missing.

    Autumn displays in upstate new York are like a daytime fireworks show. Certain trees, such as the oaks, beeches, elms, sycamores, and cherries, are like the main part of the show, but the finale is reserved for the maples. They are the ones that fire up the display with an intensity that will not be ignored!

    *The days are “black and blue”—moments of bright and sunny skies, broken in arresting ways by big dark clouds that add drama.*

    What an outstanding description! What could be better than pumpkin picking or cider making on a black and blue day while woodsmoke adds a special magic to the crispy air!

    • Eric, sometimes your kind comments make me blush! But I’m embarrassed to have missed the leaf mold smell! You’re so right–that smell is critical to the whole experience of autumn!

  7. Autumn is so short in northern climates–and every moment should be savored. All of the things you “need” to do will still be there when you’re ready to do them.

  8. One of the things I love about Oregon is that the leaves change color. My hometown in Alaska was mostly evergreens so autumn looked like summer and winter (the weather is fairly dreary and drizzly year round). It made the coming of fall pretty unexciting, and only noticeable because school started back up. I can only imagine what it would be like on the East Coast, where the changing of the seasons is an event. The phrase leaf-peeper tours is seriously awesome! =)

    • The words “leaf” and “peep” go together in all imaginable ways here–noun phrase, verb, adjective, etc. People pay a lot for bus tours–but what if rains or the leaves turn too early?!

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