An excerpt from a reminiscence first published on Mixed Metaphors, Oh My!
By Linda Lenzke
One can already see the sun’s position in the sky changing and its effect on daylight. Soon too, the leaves will change from their verdant hues to vibrant shades of carmine, crimson, burnt orange, golden yellows and finally tawny browns before they fall to the ground. Like most mothers, I’m sure Mother Nature doesn’t have a favorite season, yet I do, and it’s fall.
Living in Wisconsin, our lives ebb and flow with the changing seasons, sometimes winter is unrelenting and it’s a struggle just to get out the door for our day-to-day lives. We are restored in the spring when the changing weather brings us hope and quells the itchiness of spring fever. Summer is our reward, a time for leisure and vacations. In the autumn we reap the harvest of the land and prepare for the long, cold nights again, the cycles of change repeated.
In the Midwest, we reap the harvest and bounty of the season, apples and cider, pumpkins and peppers, all the canned preserves and pickled relishes of our Northern European heritage, farm-raised meats, both fresh and smoked, cheeses and baked goods and in Madison, available each week at our Farmers Market on the Capitol Square.
Since the weather changed here overnight from highs in the 80s earlier in the week to yesterday’s high of sixty and the evening temps dipped from the sixties to the forties, I decided to make my first batch of chili for the season, for me the first sign of fall. It was a beautiful day to visit the market. Dane County has one of the largest and most renowned Farmer’s Market in the nation. Award-winning, locavore chefs pull their red wagons and fill them with the ingredients for the menu they design based on what the market offers and their culinary ingenuity designs.
There are mundane rituals too that happen this time of year, swapping out summer bedding for winter’s down comforters, and rediscovering that favorite jacket, sweater or sweatshirt to bundle up in after work or on the weekend — simple, comforting, seasonal rituals. Nesting urges grow, as we prepare to spend more time indoors, yet road trips to orchards and pumpkin patches and Sunday drives to see the changing trees are on the rise.
With the changing season, the cycle of holidays begins, leading to winter. I wrote this poem inspired by a journal entry:
The Solace of Ritual
“There is comfort in repetition and wonder in change.” Journal entry, 9/23/12
September’s sun filters through blue translucence
day and night becoming equal.
Temperatures rise and fall like tides;
ebb and flow between dawn and twilight,
gears of my Circadian clock adjusting.
Nesting urges permeate my behavior.
I swap out summer for winter bedding,
prepare for long nights and cold days.
Cupboards are filled as I squirrel away provisions.
I can smell leaves and home fires burning.
The changing season, trees ablaze,
transformation before dormancy, so begins
the hibernation of winter.
Golden, auburn, crimson, tawny shades of brown
fade to a grayscale palette.
I can hear the crisp sounds of leaves
dancing on sidewalks, and the wind begin to whistle.
Soon the swan song of September surrenders
to a calendar of holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving,
Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and the New Year.
Memories recycle of seasons past
of people absent and places far away.
I soothe myself with the solace of ritual.
There is comfort in repetition
and wonder in change.
To read other reminiscences from Linda Lenzke, visit Mixed Metaphors, Oh My!
© 2019 Linda Lenzke
Linda is a Madison-area writer, poet and playwright who blogs at Mixed Metaphors Oh My! She is a founding member of LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers, writer and producer of Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed, a monologue play, and also the author of Jenifer Street, a short play in three scenes. Linda is the creator and co-producer of a web series in production, Hotel Bar. Earlier in her writing career, she wrote and performed stand-up comedy and was a member of improvisational performance collectives.
Thank you, everyone who responded to my recent “Story Harvest” call for submissions! – Sarah