by Amy Martin (c)
When the first hint of fall arrives in Texas, when we can first draw a cool breath deep into our lungs at night, we tentatively emerge from our air-conditioned dens to linger on the front stoop in conversation, lie beneath the trees, limbs drooping with nuts. Squirrels busily begin raiding the pecans, burying them in the yard where they’ll sprout next year. Shaking out of their summer stupor, dogs tug at the fence for a ramble through the park. The mesquite of backyard barbecues fills the air. Pumpkins appear on front steps. Dew sparkles on the morning grass.
We slip into the leeward side of the seasons as the autumnal equinox arrives. Rain changes in the fall from the mad thrashing thunderstorms of summer to the enveloping downpour that comes with cold fronts from the north. The sky, once a pale bleached blue, regains its deeper hue.
Lawns come to life, changing to emerald green from parchment brown. Plants shed their leathery sunburned foliage, tentatively turn toward the light. They unfurl their leaves to soak the fading rays as the sun rises lower in the sky. Crimson spider lilies sway on long stalks, luring south-bound hummingbirds to visit for a nectar’s drink. The brassy gold and auburn mums bloom to linger past the frost.
We eagerly pull sweaters smelling of cedar from drawers, grab our jackets from the back of the closet, and pull on thick socks. Fall beckons long afternoon drives in the country to watch tractors cutting vast fields of hay, farmers plowing harvest stubble to fallow until the spring. Breaking from our cars, the smell of bonfires in the air, we walk through the woods amidst falling leaves and tarry for the sunset. Golden rays cast their fading warmth on lakes rimmed with the red and yellow oaks of autumn, adorned with bobbing flotillas of migrating fowl.
The holidays lie before us, families and celebrations of the season, a time of turning inward toward the soul. We draw together as the days grow shorter, the nights get colder and the dew turns into frost.