I have always been a summer girl. I love that season the most. You see, for nigh on 10 months of the year, I’m chilly: layers of thermal vests and wool are my fondest friends. I wear a hat from November to February. The long, cold months seem to go on endlessly. Thankfully, just when I think I can’t take it any more, April and May tease me with their warm fingers. They are my saviours, but it’s June, July and August when I finally breathe out.
So, this year, reaching late September, I watched the summer fade with sadness and trepidation. I knew what was coming. Or, at least, I thought I did…
But then this Autumn hit me like an Autumn never has done before.
The leaves. Oh, the leaves!
I just couldn’t stop staring.
It felt like pure joy was laying on the ground around me as I walked….through woods, through the park and down tree-lined lanes.
They. Were. Just. Astounding.
Granted, I’ve always liked leaves. I’ve greeted the swathes of colour they produce on hillsides with a smile. But nothing like this.
This Autumn, I stopped and marvelled. I stood, I stared and I scooped down to get a closer look. I had my breath taken away from me.
Whole walks with Gabriel were taken over by leaves. And it was OK.
I’d come home with my hands full. I had no where to put them – we were living in between houses and out of a suitcase at our parent’s, but I kept what I could; pressing some and immersing others in a glycerin bath.
I got a pocket book from the library on trees and carried it with me, trying to identify what I saw.
I snapped pictures, I arranged leaves, I considered colours.
And I’ve never enjoyed an Autumn more.
Pure joy brought me alive, when I’m usually mourning the passing sun and trying to figure out how I’ll cope with the coming depths.
When summer starts to fade next year, I’ll be a little less sad, nay, perhaps I’ll even be excited at the thought of what’s to come!
So, what’s been different this year?
This transformation has happened because I’ve allowed myself to love what I love. I’ve let myself be guided by my curiosity, to physically go where it leads me; for it to be OK to just do something for enchantment, for no reason other than that I am drawn to it – that it pleases my eye and my soul.
As Mary Oliver says in her poem, Wild Geese,
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
It sounds so easy, and yet it’s so challenging.
To quit the striving, to step out of the mindset that playing is just for kids, that we must be using every hour for practical things, to stop worrying and to be present, to trust that it’ll be OK, to allow ourselves to ‘indulge’, to notice, acknowledge, be moved by and revel in what makes us us.
All those are such brave things to do.
I’m proud of myself for having the gumption to be walking this path. To have let go of the rails of certainty, of the world’s definition of success, to be child-like and loving towards the part of me that want’s to play. I’ve been led by leaves this Autumn and it’s changed my world.