I remember autumns of childhood and adolescent years, autumns that seemed long seasons of mild weather, bright colors, slow moving days, romps through woods, touch football, hardwood and pine tree smells.
I remember brilliant blue and gold autumns of Colorado.
Late as it is this year, I enjoy the height of color, the mild temperatures turning cooler, and the shortening days.
Last week, in mid-to-late morning, I sat quietly watching yellow, gold, red, and brown leaves fall in gentle breezes. By early afternoon, breezes turned to winds, blowing and stripping leaves from trees, blowing them from raked piles, blowing open my unlocked back door and covering with ankle-deep leaves the walkway and steps to the front porch.
On an old postcard, I see an image entitled “Fall,” in which there are bare trees, wild winds, and a desolate landscape at late afternoon.
This is a fall we miss. We are too busy decorating and lighting things for Christmas, consumed by shopping and holiday business. We don’t notice the magnificence of the bleakness of the end of autumn, of the increasing darkness and desolation. We concern ourselves with parties and glitz and not the starkness, the end of autumn, the end of the dark time of the year, with its sober sense.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Nathanael Johnson, Unseen City. Rodell, 2016.
Johnson urges us to become more aware of our natural surroundings. Teaching his daughter the names of trees, he became interested in the natural world of San Francisco. He urges us to take one animal or plant in our urban settings and learn as much about it as we can for a month. He presents nine animals and plans in urban areas and write elloquently about their lives, including pigeons, squirrels, gingkos, and crows. He presents also his daughter’s view of them and writes about the importance of seeing the world in a magical way, in a child-like manner.