As summer fades into autumn, I ponder springtime. Autumn and spring are so similar, but with a mood and a flavor and a savor completely alien to one another. Both are an anticipated change from the previous seasons and both are transitions of one thing to another. Spring doesn’t come to bring spring. Spring comes to bring summer. Autumn doesn’t come to bring autumn, it comes to bring winter. And that right there, I think, is why their flavor is so different.
Spring means a warming up, and a bursting forth of new life, growing things, greening up, and the hope of what is coming. Hopeful optimism is spring’s emotion.
Fall’s coolness and moisture are a welcome relief, but with the bittersweetness of bracing for winter. Fall is a coming to fruition of summer, a completion, a finishing. Wistful contentment is fall’s emotion.
And there is wistfulness. The beautiful colors don’t last very long, the warm days will be short lived, and refreshingly cool will become bitingly cold. All the work anticipated in the spring and taking place in the summer is competed in the fall.
As rewarding as it is to be putting up my garden harvest, there’s a wistful regret to see ripen the last of the pumpkins and the last of the tomatoes, and it is a little sad to be clearing everything out of the garden, little by little. My flower garden is still beautiful but all it will take is one frost for that to be done for the year.
My little bum calf, Charlie, finally flew the coop and stopped coming in every morning for her feed, and joined two cow-calf pairs down in the hayfield. It is delightful to see her playing with the other calves, rough-housing and no longer lonely, but I miss her silly little calf personality every morning down at the barn.
The calves born in the spring are big and fat and sleek, a producer’s pride, but there’s a puzzling regret when they are sold.
The antelope family we watched all summer along our driveway seems to have joined up with another small herd, so we don’t see them anymore, but now we hear elk bugling on the ridgetop behind our house. I wish I could describe the haunting, chilling, beautiful song that those elk make.
The fall cow work with the best of neighbors from all along Spring Creek is just winding up, and is possibly the best part of the fall. It really doesn’t get much better than getting to spend long days doing hard work and then fellowshipping over a meal when the work is done. But as that burst of activity winds up and then winds down over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look ahead to a long and sometimes lonely winter season. But after winter comes spring, and those same neighbors will be gathering folks for work days and coming to ours.
The days are shortening from both ends, the shadows are long and getting longer. The madcap, productive days spent outdoors, trying to beat the heat with a sunrise start, sweating and getting sunburnt and filthy and finally tumbling inside tireder than tired will be a thing of the past and a thing of the future, and attentions will be turned to other kinds of work. It will be a quieter sort of work, as the outside world starts to slumber. Projects that get sidelined during summer’s busyness will be brought out, and planning for the next year will really begin.
Autumn is indeed bittersweet. Bittersweet, but wonderful.