Monday, September 22, 2008

a perfect start to the new season...

blissfall: [blisfawl] n. the experience of supreme happiness, utter joy or total contentment on a day in the season of the year that comes after summer and before winter.

Since I know so many have been cheering on this day, I doubt that any of you have missed out on the fact that today is indeed the first day of Autumn. Or Fall. Or Harvest. Shine on, shine on harvest moon, up in the sky....

And for the record, I make up words, so you won't find blissfall in any dictionary. Yet the term perfectly sums up those moments in the oncoming season that just make you let out a long lazy breath and stand firmly rooted where you are until the experience has passed.

And if the calendar wasn't enough to inform me, my inner body clock has been steadily nudging me forward. My hands have lingered over my denim jacket wistfully waiting for the temperatures to dip. Gone are the cravings for sun-brewed ice tea or lemonade, apple cider and hot chocolate eager to take their place. The kitchen is changing too. Baking is appealing again, with rich nutty flavors and lots of cinnamon. Ever since I made that pot of chili, I'm been making "good meals" as J would call them. Comfort food. Like the pork chops and noodles I baked last night with cream of mushroom soup, then served with lima beans and cranberry sauce. Or the zucchini parmigiana my dad made that I had for lunch. Yum.

My blissfall moment came today as I spied a bunch of red buckeye pods littering the side of the street by the shop. The fallen branches had been picked up by the city workers finally, revealing a carpet of this yellowish gold 'fruit' in the grass. Red buckeyes tend to be larger than the variety that grows in my front yard and the pods do not bear any spikes. So there I am, in the grass, opening up all the pods that won't ripen on the tree to extract the buckeyes. Why? Because of how great they would look scattered across a table, or in an apothecary jar, or.. or... any number of possibilities. I even thought about using them at Thanksgiving and writing each family member's name on one in a fine-tip gold paint pen. It could serve as a place marker and a gift (my granddad always said that carrying a buckeye brought good luck). So as I stuffed my pockets and then used the front of my shirt to corral all the leathery brown orbs, it dawned on me that this was the first of many more blissfall memory moments to come.

There are clear snapshots of time as I think back to years past, other Autumns:

  • Standing around a bonfire with friends, soaking in the glow of the flames and the laughter reminiscent of childhood when we were all on break from college. The sound of drum cadences echoing in the air as the marching band leads the way to the football stadium.
  • Finding the perfect red leaf resting on my windshield (when there are no red-leaved trees anywhere around), like a little present God tucked there for me, a reminder of the pristine clarity and purpose of creation as fingers traced minuscule veins and the paper-thin surface.
  • An open expanse of grass where I would lounge on a bed of quilts and read to my hearts content, warmed by the sun and your favorite layered long tee shirt and hoodie. I lived in Cincinnati then and can still feel the chill of the earth through the fabric. My friends and I would congregate on our favorite hill to spend Sunday afternoons together in silent community while we read or studied, taking breaks to laugh over something silly, finally playing Frisbee once we grew too cold and needed to get the blood flowing again. And all the while the city sprawled out before us like a glorious backdrop.
  • A sunset over a ridge of beech trees that seemed to set the world in flame and caught me by such surprise, I had to pull over and watch it. I still mourn the fact I didn't have a digital camera at the time.

The emotion that permeated each of those memories flooded my day today. Tonight I'll be dreaming about what will get added to that internal scrapbook that defines this time of year.

{ Photos courtesy of Flickr. }

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