Keeping It Real

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Mary South

Fall. Is there an easier season to love? The sticky haze of summer has faded to a pleasant memory. You rediscover your favorite sweater and briefly consider (and discard) the idea of socks. The scent of hardwood smoke perfumes the air, and stately maples commence their pageants: red and gold leaves waving so long against crisp blue skies full of high, white cirrus. If you listen closely to an autumn breeze at night, it sounds like gathering whispers, rumors of winter. 

Wait — don’t think about winter yet! Although retail is already flogging Christmas displays, and the season of run-amok pumpkin spice will soon be ending, fall is still here, right now. 

Even as nature marches toward hibernation, autumn feels like it’s a time for fresh starts, new beginnings. And like the first page of a blank notebook, its perfect potential won’t last forever. 

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns.” — George Eliot  

Wrest every moment of enjoyment from this ideal season. Rivers are empty of traffic, their lush colors doubled in the mirror of stilled water. Underway at sea it’s just cold enough to make you feel extra-alive. What’s better than a hot beverage on a chilly deck as you watch the sun rise across a sea-smoked cove? 

If you’ve already hauled out, get in a kayak and paddle through some wetlands. Ducks and geese linger, postponing their mournful overhead vees of southbound honking. The soft sound of the paddle breaking the wet and the lonely loon song will swell your heart with beauty. 

In no other season does nature so clearly remind us of her gifts, the safe place she offers us to disconnect from the noise of a chaotic world and feast on splendor that is preciously real. It won’t always be here — nor will we — so don’t miss it.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue.