Fall called me out for a walk today. The air was barely cold enough to leave a chill on my cheek, but I wore my coat anyway because it’s the sort of day when you want to stroll along with your hands in your pockets. Everything was so still and so beautiful. The blue sky was mottled with white. The trees were speckled with reds and oranges, and gold leaves glowed from the bushes.
As I rounded a corner, I met a man who was walking a big dog. I tried to give the two a wide berth, but the dog was curious and kept wandering toward me. The man assured me that the dog was friendly–“He just wants to love on you.” I smiled and started to lower my hand so the dog could sniff it, but I never got a chance because he jumped up and put his big paws on my stomach. I was so surprised that I exclaimed, but I didn’t mind. The owner was embarrassed and scolded the dog, but I laughed and assured him that everything was okay. We wished each other good afternoon and went our separate ways.
Peace reigned everywhere, and I felt like there were memories all around me. As I picked up bright leaves and enjoyed their warm colors, I remembered my childhood . . . Running from the school playground to my mom’s car on crisp October afternoons, my feet flying over the straw-colored grass. Tearing corners off maple leaves to smell the rich, heady scent of autumn. Carrying around a smiling plastic pumpkin on chilly Halloween nights as I knocked on strangers’ doors in search of candy.
I passed a house at the end of a street and saw an old friend–a playful German shepherd that’s still in his puppy days. His owners might have bought him for security, but he’s too much of a sweetheart to be a good guard dog. When I used to exercise faithfully, I’d wave and call to him as I jogged by. He would follow me as far as he could inside his fence and then look after me with those big brown eyes. Today he barked at me for the first time, but then he fell silent and followed me when he recognized me. I guess more exercise is in order if he’s forgotten who I am!
As I walked farther and listened to the silence around me, I thought: How do you describe fall? Are there single words that can sum it up and evoke the feeling of autumn, even on hot summer days?
To me, fall is crisp. Mellow. So calm, yet so full of contained excitement. A celebration. A walk through memories. The year settling back in an armchair.