Here in Vermont, this time of year, you can already start to feel it. Midday hours may still be warm, but the early mornings and evenings are beginning to take a cooler turn. I truly enjoy that seasonal reminder that summer weather will not last forever; beach days will soon be over, as pumpkins, potatoes, and bundled cornstalks appear at roadside farm stands.
These things are subtle changes, indeed. They appear slowly at first and may be barely noticeable. Still, soon enough you realize that the wonderful sweatshirt and sneaker weather of fall is approaching for real.
People and our habits change with the seasons up here, perhaps a bit more slowly than the seasons themselves change, but the change is just as real, and it is for the good. I notice that with the coming of fall, casual comments turn from how hot it has been lately to how cool it was last evening. Old folks talk about getting the vegetables in from the garden; younger ones dress a bit warmer and have a slightly brisker walk. It’s all part of a seasonal redirection if we realize it or not.
It is true that in a state where the seasons are five, not four, (if you include the much-dreaded mud season just before spring,) and where those seasons are strong and vibrant, most animals, including we humans, do adjust and prepare for whatever one is about to come. Attitudes and attention divert from the present to what’s just around the corner. We nearly forget things we have only recently done and concentrate on that anticipated change that we might already feel.
All of nature abides by those changes and some of nature nurtures us along into the coming weather and routines. In late August and into September in Vermont the lawn needs mowing much less frequently. In many families, beach toys and camping equipment are all, if by piecemeal, tucked away until next year, soon to be replaced by leaf rakes and wheelbarrows, while orange pumpkins and potted chrysanthemums begin to be seen decorating the front steps of neighborhood homes.
What I am hoping, against all hope, and actually praying for this year is that this next seasonal change to the cooler temps, beautiful gold and red trees, and rustling, wind-blown leaves has an even greater effect on our spirits than in any usual fall.
We have had a wonderful summer in this part of the country, a summer which began very early and has had many more sunny than rainy days. In fact, with no basis at all in anything but coincidence, our summer has seemed to have been improved and extended by the same length of time we have so far had to endure and cope with the coronavirus. How strange. Perhaps we have been provided these wonderful outdoor days to reduce the cabin fever feeling of quarantining.
It has been reassuring to me that the past few mornings and evenings have been a bit brisk up here. I somehow get the feeling that nothing is forever, not even a virus, and that the season is about to change, too. Perhaps with the weather, some attitudes, perspectives, and emotional directions will improve. Although we may not be completely through the threat of covid-19, we can change our thoughts and conversation a bit, as we at least change the seasonal subject in our minds.
No one has ever thought of me as some eternal optimist, but just as circumstances far beyond our control took our country and our world to where they are now in just a few short months, perhaps new circumstances can bring them back to where they were, in, maybe, just a few more.
A bright new seasonal redirection of body, mind, and spirit may be exactly what the doctor ordered.