“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” author L. M. Montgomery
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Author Albert Camus
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” Jim Bishop
It is deep fall now, getting into late October, and the days are noticeably shorter. The hours of dark are slowly increasing and the hours of light are decreasing. Sunrises now occur around 7 AM, and sunsets are happening earlier and earlier. We will adjust for that somewhat with our re-setting of the clocks on November 6, but this is the time when we first really feel the changes in the season. It is also a time when leaves turn color and begin to fall, when the days generally start out cooler and crisp, and we look up and notice birds and other animals on the move. It is a time of change; of transition. And like spring, it is a time in which the transition to a new reality is obvious and clear. We are witnesses to another turning of the cycle, and for me that is a glorious and joyous thing.
One of the places that transition and cycle is most noticeable is in the sky. Different constellations have been slowly moving into view, and the added darkness make them more visible. While I am by no means an astronomer, I do remember certain notable constellations from my school trips to the Franklin Institute planetarium, and I love noting them as I look at the autumn night and early morning sky. Looking to the north I can see Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Big and Little Dippers and remember how to find the North Star. Every time I do that I think back to the song, Follow the Drinking Gourd, and stories of escaping slaves using that star to light their escape North in the 17 and 1800’s. That is a good reminder to me of the ways humans can interact with and use what we are presented with by nature; we are connected to the sky and not separate from it. Hercules, with his arm upraised and his broad chest, is to the northwest and I can imagine his great strength and power when I see him. Across from him toward the northeast I can usually spot Gemini and my favorite, Orion with his three-star belt. There are other constellations I sort of remember-Perseus, Cygnus, and Capricorn, and it is fun for me to try and locate them and name them. I know I am not always right, but looking up and trying to recall them brings me quiet joy. As fall changes into winter I know I will see these constellations more easily as they change position and that they will be with me on my early morning or night walks. It is a comfort and something I look forward to each night and/or morning.
The moon is likewise more noticeable as the seasonal changes continue. The process of full moon to crescent moon plays out more clearly to me in the fall and winter, and it is wonderful to see it. Even in the city it is visible, and I get to see it magically appear on the horizon a little earlier most nights. The recent Full Moon-the Hunter's Moon was spectacular-and it filled me and man other observers with pure joy and wonder. I have no idea why the moon affects me more in the fall and winter than at other times, but it does. The sky seems to be closer and more intimate as the year progresses, and I can take delight in walking and looking up.
So the progression of the fall is a wondrous transition for me. I can feel the cycle in a deep way now. It is around me, visible, and almost tangible. I do not know how and why it affects me as it does, but I am glad that it does. It feels good to be aware of and more in touch with what is going on around me; I am more present, and that is always a good thing.