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Autumn is transcendent and prescient; I’ve felt and known this since my youth.
That was in Central California, where the summer lasts well into September, gradually and grudgingly giving way to the damp, dripping and darkening third of the year, grapevines waiting to lose their leaves so they can endure the pruning shear.
I’ve known it as we raised our children in eastern Montana, where the fall began even in August. Above my computer hangs a picture of a copse of cottonwoods during of one of those autumns: slanting sunlight piercing the clouds; Manichaean light and dark battling for dominance of a season too soon to slide into bitter chill.
I feel it now, here in the midwest: the slight shortening of daylight, the cheesewagons (school buses) laded with unwilling passengers slowing traffic to a crawl, the memory of burning leaves and the prospect of Friday football filling the soul with anticipation.
And above and around and within something else: something dark this way comes, something silent, something cool and empty and terrifying and final. Something that only an eternal rejuvenation can assuage.
Both my father and my mother died late in the autumn. The promise of that eternal rejuvenation makes the autumn not a season of doom, but of hope.