Full Circle by Thad Ray

March 12, 2012

Reflections of Fall

 

Thad Ray

By THAD RAY

mcp blogger

 

It is sunny out and the air is crisp. A slight breeze rustles the leaves. A few flutter to the ground joining others, brown and dry.

Sunlight weaves its way through the canopy, a golden snake tracing kaleidoscope patterns on the ground, and the scent of wood smoke lingers in the air like something barely remembered.

It is a good day, alive with promise, alive with hope.

In Michigan there are four distinct seasons. All of the seasons have something unique to offer, winter with its frigid beauty, the heat of summer and the coolness of Lake Michigan, as well as the greenery coming to life and the freshness of spring. But fall seems to hold an extra special charm for me.

Fall lends itself to romanticism. It represents a time of contemplation, and makes me think of long walks whether in the woods or in town. I envision cool sunny days and changing colors. I think of long chats over coffee at the cafe, and heart to heart conversations in front of the fire in the cool evenings. Fall is the time to catch up on your reading and build leaf forts. It is a time of winding down before winter.

Spring is a time of new beginnings. You see the leaves budding on the branches, the grass turning green again, and the air almost feels alive with potential. It is the awakening after winter’s slumber, the true beginning of the New Year.

Spring is also the time of remembering. Remembering muscles unused through the winter, remembering the smells and sights of the world outside after the white sterility of winter. It is a recalling to life.

Summer is tribute to heat and the sun. It is a time of youth and of wild abandon. The beach is crowded with people who love the sand and the water and the heat. They walk around barely clothed, comfortable in their own skin, soaking in the warmth of the sun.

Summer evenings bring to mind a lustful sultriness. Tanned bodies meeting on the dance floor under colored lights and mirror balls, pulsing in unison to some primal rhythm. Summer is a testament to and an embracing of life.

The frozen landscape of winter can be breathtaking in its beauty. Countless photographs and paintings testify silently to that. Each a futile effort to capture a piece of a moment.

Winter is a season of forgetting. A time of coming to peace with one’s self, and one’s surroundings. A coming to terms if you will, of one’s place in the world, and finding that sense of serenity with which to face the oncoming year.

Winter is also a time of planning; analyzing the past, learning from it and preparing for the future, and embracing the promise that the new year holds. A time for letting the previous days fade slowly into memory in preparation for spring’s new beginning.

Fall for me has always held an extra special attraction. I love taking long walks in the late afternoon. I rarely go downtown in the summer because I don’t care too much for the tourist crowd. Fall is my time to play tourist. I like seeing what has changed downtown, and what has stayed the same.

I stop in to places that I haven’t been in all summer and have a beer as if nothing’s changed. That’s comforting to me; that people whom I haven’t seen in months greet me like I just saw them yesterday. That this town, my town, that changes so much over the summer, still remembers me.

For the past few years, fall has been a time of rest. I work for a company that is really busy from mid spring until fall, so during the summer I work a lot of hours. Fall has traditionally been my time to take a break from the chaos that has run rampant for the past few months. It’s like a deep breath for the soul, a reprieve from the hectic pace that my life has been running at all summer.

As I sit here and write this I look out of my window and get that fall feeling. I am relaxed yet attentive. I find myself thinking a lot more. I find myself reminiscing and planning. Fall is the time when I take stock of my life. Where it’s been and where it’s going. Fall is the time when I plant my ideas to slumber over the winter, and come to life in the spring.

Like most people, when I was a child, summer was my favorite time of year. I believe the fact that there was no school played a big part in that, if only for the escape it seemed to represent. I used to spend my summers on my bike, or fishing, or at the beach, or just off doing kid things.

As the years went by and my responsibilities increased, when I was confronted with life, my passion for summer decreased. Life seeped in to my idyllic existence.

I think that as a child, summer represents a sense of freedom that’s hard to duplicate in these later years. The feeling that anything is possible, and that something exciting is certainly waiting just around the corner.

As I grew older I still held onto that love for summer, but throughout the years, various seasons have replaced summer as my favorite.

For a while I was really into skiing and snowmobiling. I would look forward to winter all year long, just to enjoy those few hundred miles that I would put on the snowmobile, or those runs that I would make down the slopes at one of the nearby ski resorts. I have memories of the friends that shared those times with me, but like the seasons, most of those friends, and most of those memories have faded into the past.

My daughter loves sledding, so inevitably in the winter we spend a lot of time riding on tubes at breakneck speeds down frozen sand dunes. She and I meet her cousins most weekends, and while we adults play on the dunes a little bit, most of our time is spent talking and watching our children enjoy the same things that we enjoyed at their ages.

These times are valuable to me, these days spent outdoors with my daughter. Who knows how long those dunes will be there? How many more years will she want to go sledding with me?

For some time I was into river fishing a lot, so spring would find me in my waders on the banks of the Pere Marquette, fishing rod in hand chasing scaly ghosts. This is a beautiful place to experience spring with the new leaves emerging, and animal babies learning the ways of their world.

My friends and I would spend hours talking about fishing, planning ways to catch more fish, and figuring out how to get away to fish. Ironically, since I began working for a fishing lure company, the time I spent fishing decreased to the point where I didn’t even buy a fishing license this year, and although I don’t fish like I used to, the feeling that I hold for those times remains clear in my memory.

As my daughter got older I would take her adventuring with me, and fishing was another thing that I enjoyed that I was able to share with her. She probably doesn’t remember the first fish she ever caught, but I do. She probably won’t ever get into fishing like I was, but those times I hold precious as well.

Thinking about the seasons has made me think that perhaps my favorite seasons change with the seasons of my life. As I get older different things appeal to me, and in the process of maturing I’ve begun to realize that at different times in my life, different things have held different values.

I think it’s something that we all go through continuously. Change is the only constant, and in order to embrace life fully you must realize that change is what makes life worth living.

The cycle of the seasons reminds us that our lives are a series of cycles. Seasons of death, rebirth, and of life. The beauty of the seasons as a whole is seeing the underlying truth and applying it to the way in which we live our lives.

Perhaps fall is my favorite season right now only because it’s the time of my life when the values and things it represents are what are most important to me, just as in the past, the things that the other seasons represented were what was most important to me at that time.

That is where life is lived, in the here, the now. Reflect on the past. Contemplate the future. These are natural and good things, but life is lived in the here and now. Life is what happens while you’re planning your life. The times in between times. The moments the lead up to The Moments.

The seasons easily lend themselves to all sorts of allegorical references. Their ever changing nature bears so many similarities to the complex yet simple process of life that comparisons are almost inevitable, yet that was not my intention at the onset of this discourse. My goal was to explain why fall is my favorite season. Perhaps it is my favorite season because that’s what season it is now. At this moment in time. And that is where I am right now. Here. At this moment in time.

 

 

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