It’s mid-October and it’s time to reread Ray Bradbury. It sneaks up on me every year, even when I’m looking forward to it. It pounces suddenly. Like the changing colors of the leaves, I wait for the brilliant yellow, orange and red, and it’s always when I start wondering if they’re going to make an appearance that they blaze abruptly, and flare out just as quickly. Then the temperature drops for good and the transition is done. Midwestern autumns like to make a joke out of how poorly some of us deal with change by forcing us to do it as sharply and swiftly as possible.
But, as with most sharp and swift changes, I’m grateful for the directness and clarity. I pulled my scarves out of the closet. I made pumpkin pie. I’m ready. And what I’m ready for, mostly, is to reflect.
October is the season of lengthening shadows and early evenings. Everything starts slowing down. The world seems quieter. I have more time to think. Soon, the challenge will be not to slow down but to keep going, to not let the shadows strengthen and gain shape. It’s a time to delve into reflection so that I can learn the lessons that will take me through winter. An emotional harvest, I suppose.
It’s no wonder that Bradbury mythologized autumn as a time of magic and soft danger. In the old fairy tales, you were taught to be respectful of areas of transition, like crossroads, and twilight. Anything could happen in between. Be aware. Be appreciative. Pay attention to where you’ve come from, and be prepared for where you’re going. The time is brief, but the potential is limitless.