In the past four years living in Vancouver, every year Fall takes me by surprise and takes my breath away with her beauty. This year we had a very late and disappointing Summer (as in: I think 75% of summer happened in September and the temperatures barely cracked 80F). It was pretty much a relief when I finally realized that Fall had arrived and I could just give up on Summer. The first inkling I got was at the park in Richmond one day, the site of a weekly picnic with friends from our church, when I realized that a chilly wind was already blowing dry yellow leaves across our picnic blanket.
Then a few weeks later, I turned off of King Edward Avenue onto the small side street that leads to our home. On this particular day, on the right side of the road, silhouetted against the grey North Shore mountains were a line of four or five young scarlet red maple trees whose leaves had changed seemingly overnight. They were so bright they looked like they had burst into flames. I checked around and quickly confirmed that I had not been asleep, most of the other trees were still green.
The days are noticeably shorter lately. It feels as though the sun is always in our eyes. It casts long shadows across the playground at 9am and again already by 4pm. When we walk there on dry days, we get caught in the silk threads that ugly little worms spin to hang from the trees. When we come home, we are greeted by pumpkins and "Indian corn" in the windows, and for several weeks a large spider lived in a perfect web outside the sill. Looking out at him at night gave me the willies, but I was secretly proud of my Pintrest-worthy natural Fall tableau. No silly fake Halloween webs for me, only a real, big BC spider would do.
On another night, I walked out from a meeting at church into a tremendous wind. As it whipped playfully around us throwing my hair up and across my face, it smelled humid, but not earthy like rain. Instead it carried the salt tang of the ocean inland. Driving home that night it was dark and stormy, like the beginning of a story. The tall trees on our street were particularly wild and beautiful as they swished and sighed with the gusts, and in the morning the sidewalk was littered with sticks and leaves.
I don't know what I like best about Fall. There is something about the goodness of harvest. There is something good about the stocking and the storing, the pickling and the canning, the slow-cooker full of plum jam or pear or apple butter. Mmm... the winter squash. Perhaps the introvert in me is glad to draw in from the picnics and socials of summer, delightful as they are. I’ve never loved heat, so the arrival of the cool air is always something of a relief. There is something lovely about turning on the heat and coming in out of the chill. Or letting the chill in.
Before I was a mother, I would crack the window, listen to the rain, sip tea and read a book. Now that I have Lucy to hang out with, we put on our rain coats and rain boots and go for a walk around the block or on the inevitable sick days this time of year, we sit in our pjs all day and have an herbal tea party. (That sounds so idyllic, I should also note that a small apartment can feel like a torture chamber when one finds oneself closed up with a whiny toddler on a rainy day… all attempts at creating something idyllic usually entail pools of herbal tea to wipe up from the floor or carrying a limp, wet, whimpering toddler on your hip for at least as far as she drug you along before she tired. Also, no matter how cold it gets or how hard it is raining, she will never ever ever want to come back inside.)
Especially when life is hard, when the rain hasn’t stopped in days, I try to take special notice of the beautiful place and time where I live. There is always something to be grateful for.