Awake in Autumn

Summer is long over. The lingering days of warmth faded into an early morning chill that warned of autumn creeping over nature.

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If summer is the peak of warmth and winter the peak of cold, then autumn and spring are the transitional seasons. The tweeners. I don’t particularly like being hot because I love tea and fuzzy socks and warm blankets and cuddling in my husband’s sweat shirts. So as beautiful as summer is, with lazy warm days at the shore under sunny blue skies, it’s still not my favorite season. Since I like the cold, I’m more drawn to winter. The catch is that I’m not a huge fan of snow. I think it’s because it often dumps from the sky in such huge quantities that I become a prisoner in my own house. This strange claustrophobia makes less sense when you understand my habits. Some days I barely leave my house for writing and reading all day. I think it’s just the mental block of an outside force controlling my ability to do as I please.

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There is beauty in every season, but fall is probably my favorite. Fall is a fading from summers heat into a sigh of cool breezes. The stark beauty of green bursts forth into a myriad of color. Red, orange, yellow, and brown, with pops of purple and pink. I love when the breeze blows and the leaves flutter and dip to the ground like raindrops to cover the dying grass. It’s like the trees are knitting their foliage into a blanket to cover their toes against the coming snow.

I love walking in fall. I love the sound of dry leaves scraping and clicking as the wind sends them skipping across the pavement. I love the smells of earth which seems accentuated with the cooling temperature.

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I’ve been more awake this year to the changing seasons. There’s probably many reasons for that. Sometimes I think it’s because we moved to a more rural area. Or maybe it’s because of my husband’s job change, giving us more chance to spend time outside. I think those things help, but more than that I think it’s because I want to be awake now. The more I grow, the more I realize how much of my life I’ve spent asleep. Now my eyes are open, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

Not one color. Not one scent. Not one fallen leaf.

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© Rachel Svendsen 2015

Contentment with Snow

I am one of many people on the East Coast of the United States that is longing for winter to be over. I’m not going to say I have it as bad as most, if I lived in Boston I’d need to be institutionalized, but it’s cold and unpleasant. I miss Spring, the warmth of the sun on my bare skin, laying in the grass, resting beneath the oak tree after a three mile run with my husband, taking walks into town in the evening, when the breeze cools to a delicious temperature, just cold enough to make the warmth of my husband’s hand extra special.

The other day, I took a ride with my Grandmother. I sat in the passenger seat, bundled up in three layers of coats and sweatshirts complete with hat, gloves, and scarf. It was just after 9 and the sun was clear and visible through an opening in the trees over a snow-covered corn field.

The sun’s heat combined with the extreme temperatures turned the snow into ice. Every divot and track looked imprinted and almost fake. The yellow sunlight glittered across the surface, chasing us as we drove past the expanse at 45 miles an hour. The white crystal snow appeared to be simultaneously still and moving, like the surface of a lake being tickled by the occasional breeze. The piles of snow dumped haphazardly by plows and shovels now looked like blown glass ornaments.

I am learning contentment, which is not an easy lesson where I live. I try to keep out of stores when I don’t need anything so I’m not tempted to add to my possessions. I also am trying to be content with time, treating each day, each moment, as a gift. So when I crawled into bed the night before with four blankets piled on top of me and whined to my husband about the cold and my desire for spring, I was immediately struck by a truckload of guilt.

“Never mind,” I said. “I need to enjoy what I have right now.”

Timothy smiled at me. “Sometimes when today is hard, it’s okay to look forward to tomorrow.”

That’s my wise husband for you. He’s right, that’s pretty much the definition of hope. But when I looked out over that glassy field, I wasn’t wishing for spring. I wasn’t wishing for anything more than what I had. All I wanted was to slip off one of my gloves and run my finger over the surface of the snow, to feel the cool sting of ice against my warm living flesh.