The view from my front deck is awe inspiring. Although much of my beloved forest canopy is still clothed in the couverture verte of late summer, balloons of vibrant hues bespeckle the vista near and far. Mother Nature has come to the end of her reproductive season and has begun her annual change of life. Yes, the dear Mother of our Northern Hemisphere has entered her yearly menopause.
Autumn is such a visually beautiful time of year in the Great Smoky Mountains as the foliage dons its brilliant fall Joseph’s Coat of reds, purples, amber and orange. But the seasonal change in the Womb of the World has its more fickle side. Recently, we mere mortals that live in the majestic Southeast were tormented with Mother’s emotional mood swings that started with several days of gentle weeping and built itself up into a torrent of bawling that left many towns awash in a flood of tears. Some lost their lives and many others lost their homes; there are many whose lives are still disrupted, floundering in need of assistance. To them, I send my heartfelt prayers.
I am fortunate to live far enough north and west of her most recent wrath, only to have mildly suffered through a week and a half of wet, gray, cold days, with mornings of blinding fog and evenings trying to appease my suffering dogs that were equally tortured by bloated bladders and their disdain for rain soaked feet.
With the new season, the dawn breaks a little later each day and the evenings seem impatient to arrive compelling the need for cold artificial lighting that lacks the life-energizing radiance of the sun-god who is chased from his sky-throne ever earlier each afternoon. Life slows as Mother enters her change.
Each morning I awake to her cold shoulder and quickly wrap myself in my favorite cowl-neck sweater for the warmth and comfort I used to glean from Ms. Nature. (Sweater? I hate that word; can’t we come up with something for those warm over-wraps that doesn’t involve perspiration?) By the afternoon, her inevitable hot flashes will have me shedding layers of clothing, opening windows and turning on ceiling fans. I tolerate her climatic fluctuations without complaint. In her current state of emotional turmoil, it is not advisable to rile the Mother’s angst; it was only last year when she cast an angry blanket of snow across the region to spoil the Halloween of our youngest mountain dwellers.
Yet as the emerald days of summer slip past the fleetingkaleidoscope of autumn colors and into the barren browns of her winter’s sleep, we reverently rejoice in all that the Mother provides. The farmer’s markets are still laden with the late harvest, and like the squirrels and chipmunks gathering their cache of walnuts, acorns and chestnuts, kitchens everywhere are busy canning and freezing the tastes and nourishment of her bounty to tide us over until she once again warms the sky and the Earth to begin the new growth of next year’s spring. It is a glorious day, and I am grateful to be here to enjoy it.