“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.” ~ Victoria Erickson
The air changed last night. Our mountain days are still warm and summery, but the cool air from my open window coaxed me awake at dawn, gently tickling my nose with the subtle shift that I eagerly await each year. It’s that certain freshness to the air that carries whispers of the beginnings of Fall. This, for me, is heaven.
I have never felt that sense of continuity mingled with new beginnings during a new year that begins in the frigid dark of mid-winter. No – for me, it is Autumn that heralds that sense of excited anticipation.
Perhaps the reason for this is linked with school. I adored school, and managed to navigate 13 years of public education largely oblivious to or unconcerned by my status as a dorky nerd. It wasn’t social for me – I was there to feed my hunger for knowledge.
We had a yearly ritual before school started. Mom would take me into the city and I’d get outfitted with clothes to replace what I had outgrown over the previous year. Then we’d restock my school supplies. I’d get a blue denim loose-leaf notebook with tabbed dividers, which over the course of the school year would get decorated with doodles drawn in magic marker. I’d carefully iron the creases out of brown paper bags to make covers for my school books, which would also end up liberally decorated with fanciful sketches of flowers, animals, and planets. I remember favoring doodles of the Sun, the Moon, and Saturn. I would chalk that up to them having the most artistically interesting outlines for the sketching of doodles, but I’m also fascinated as an adult by their symbolism in the cycles of seasons and agriculture.
While a large part of the modern world follows the standardized Gregorian calendar, which places the beginning of the new year on January 1, there are some cultures that celebrate the beginning of the year in the Northern Hemisphere’s Autumn – for example, Enkutatash in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Rosh Hashanah in Israel.
And here at the Mountain Shack, I embrace Autumn with bittersweet urgency, collecting colorful leaves, gathering wild berries and rose hips, and giving gratitude for what is, to me, the most wondrous of seasons.