I wait all year long for that morning; when the world somehow shifts outside my window, and overnight, a brand new world blows in.
Some people's favorite day is Christmas, or their birthday, or some more remarkable calendar or card-worthy day. But my favorite day of the year is the day that I open my door early in the morning and Fall meets me in the sunrise.
I realize that Fall is a technical season of sorts, supposedly starting on a certain date determined by wise weather folks (who get paid gobs of money to never ever be right.) But I think it starts on that first pink-nosed morning, when the world smells so fresh and clean that you think that it must be brand new again.
I think there is something enchanting about Fall. I think Fall should get more attention, more notoriety. But it always blows in and out quietly, content with being overshadowed by the bursts of new life in Spring and the celebration of Summer. Even the stark contrast of the bite of the Winter winds with the holidays and hot chocolate gets more notice than quiet crisp Fall.
But Fall is my favorite.
Fall is clean and kind. Fall has its own tempo and temperament. For me, Fall is the finish line. It means I have survived another sweltering hot summer and a stressful selling season that is my real job. It is the much-needed slower pace and change that follows the chaos that Spring and Summer bring. It is my soaking tub at the end of a hectic day, my euphoria after a tortuous workout, my football and couch-nap Sunday after a long worrisome week.
Fall also brings the better flavors. It ushers in the foods and scents that we don't get to smell or taste the rest of the year and becomes all pumkin-y, and cinnamon-cloved, and rich. Fall is soothing and savory. It is bitter and buttery all at the same time, with its harvest vegetables and aromatic seasonings. It is the fullest of flavors and the fullest of faith-seasons because for me, Fall is the season of recovery and rest. And it is, unequivocally, the season when God ministers to me the most.
So that very first Fall morning is my favorite day of the year. I wait for this morning like a kid waits for Christmas. I talk about it all week and drive my husband crazy tracking the front like I used to track Santa Claus on the Santa-Tracker on the local news station. I buy special coffee and lay awake at night with anticipation. And then, when it is finally here, nothing can stop me from being up at the first hint of light, all giddy with the promise of pink noses and toes-es.
On that very first morning after the very first good front, I am jubilant. And this year, I really welcomed the chance to fling wide the doors and windows to my tiny little temporary trailer and let some of that freshness in. While my century old weenie-dog shivered from her bed under the end table, and my husband and his adorable cowlick glowered at me from the mound of blankets on the couch just inside the wide-open front door, Woody and I cuddled cozily on the front porch hammock and watched the new season roll in over the hills.
As is my usual custom, I brought my favorite old blanket (a $1 garage sale find in college and thousand years old,) all ratty from wear and ugly as sin. With its duck-on-a-pond-themed stitching, "Ducky" and I wrapped up together and headed outside. I nestled into my spot, favorite chipped-up mug in hand, blowing and sipping and blowing and sipping on my pecan and cinnamon coffee with delight. Another Fall staple, Kenny’s too-big-but so-snuggly socks, adorned my feet (he will eventually need to go buy some new ones because his will all have disappeared from his dresser and to my feet and hamper.) And then, all properly floppy-socked and caffeinated, I watched the sun come up over the horizon.
This year might have been the best. My hammock offered the perfect perch to watch it all unfold and it was ....breathtaking. While I have heard the saying "every cloud has a silver lining," I can't think of another time I actually saw this for myself until this magical morning. As the sun fought its way up over the hills to the east, a blanket of fog had settled just atop it. And as it rose, the fog took on the most beautiful silvery light around the edges. All I could think of was Heaven.
A few minutes later, when the sun won the battle and burned off the haze and crested over the hills, its caramel-colored warmth beamed down heartily. Woody and I offered our faces up to it, narrowed our eyes to happy little slits, and went golden. My once muddy-brown coated doggie suddenly shone rich as the coffee in my cup, with tiny flecks of honey hinting at whatever else might be hidden in his heritage.
I said my prayers from that hammock that morning, all surrounded by pink and orange and gold and chocolate-covered-puppy. I thanked Him for the seasons here on Earth and in my heart and my walk and my journey.
I thanked him for Winter – the harshest season - when I find out what I am made of and then am driven to remember who is really in control. I thanked Him for His constant companionship through those icy winters of my faith, when it seems so bleak and white and lonely that it is hard to believe there will ever be green and goodness again.
I thanked Him for the hopefulness of Spring – the season of surrender and growth. I thanked Him for digging in and under and around; for mulching and pruning and cultivating my heart.
I thanked Him for the shimmer of summer - the season of celebration and sun. Summer is bright and happy for sure, but also a little sticky for me. It’s when the new stuff gets a chance to really reach up towards the sky but must be carefully watered and shaded and tended to as well.
But mostly I thanked Him for Fall - for the peace and the savory-ness of the season when I see His beauty all around me, with the crisp breeze and the yellows and golds. I thanked Him for this season of rest; this season of just being.
Fall is the season when I swing on the hammock with God-Who-Is-My-Friend and look back on the other seasons in my life and simply breathe. It is the season where life’s song and tempo most closely resembles a slow country waltz. It is the season where I can, for the first time in a long time, sit back and admire His colors.
For me, Fall is the most beautiful of seasons, when the splendor of who He is and all that He has done in my life can really shine through those golden tones that I am convinced must be the very hue of the golden streets I will walk along someday.
I will say it again: Fall is my favorite season; that first pink-nosed morning when the world smells so fresh and clean that you think that it – that I - must be brand new again.