Northern Lights

And Now It’s Fall

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The warmth was all too fleeting

Flickr/perry-pics

By Miranda Weiss

August 18, 2016


 

Everyone is talking about it. Early fall was even the topic of our local weekly newspaper’s editorial cartoon, which is usually reserved for some political or otherwise contentious issue.

We all loved the early spring—the blueberries ripe in July, the garden filling with delicious things much sooner than usual. But an autumn beginning in mid-August is the flip side of all of that. Once again, we’re weeks ahead of schedule. But not in the way we want to be.

What happened to summer? I remember wearing shorts and T-shirts at some point, but now that time feels so far away. And the rain seems to have been falling for weeks. It’s not that there’s fresh snow on the mountains across the bay or that it’s been especially cold—although I haven’t left the house without my light down coat for days, and recently I’ve had to switch the heat on in the house. It’s just that the plant life around us has changed. The vibrant green of summer has already given way.

To add to that, all of the wildflowers along the trail near our house have died back. Alder leaves are turning. Fireweed flowers have gone to seed and are releasing their white down into the air. Senescence is upon us.

This shift in the season I spend all year waiting for sends me into a bit of a panic. Fall means darkness and cold and all of that. I’m not ready for it.

I’ve lived here now for nearly 17 years, and somehow the seasons still astonish me. Each winter feels like the somethingest we’ve ever had—the wettest, iciest, snowiest, warmest. Each summer breaks some other kind of record in my mind.

I didn’t contemplate the end of summer when I was enjoying its early start in May. Now I wonder, Were those beautiful early days worth it, worth this sudden collapse of the season? It’s a useless thought, of course. But I can’t help it. Just give me a few more days of summer please. Let me find one wild bloom still making a go of it. Spring and summer—those are the seasons of optimism, when anything is possible, when the world feels as though it’s heading in the right direction. I need a reminder of that now.


Miranda Weiss is the author of Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaska. She is a science and nature writer in Homer, Alaska.


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